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Results of a Gedankenexperiment 1 of 3 - RonO's Ramblings

Sep. 9th, 2012 09:58 am Results of a Gedankenexperiment 1 of 3

Disclaimer 1: The below is purely speculative.  I am making no plans to go forward with this.  Anyone trying to shove $20.00 in my direction will have merely bought me dinner – or be buying memberships on something I’m already working on.

Disclaimer 2: I’ve heard rumors of rumors that some of our fannish brethren in the more northern reaches of Southern California may be planning to do almost what was the final conclusion of this gedankenexperiment.

During Chicon 7, one evening my roommate for the con and I started discussing – purely theoretically - where a Worldcon could be held run by the fan organizations in San Diego.  Naturally, we started with site in San Diego.

First to be analyzed was the Town and Country – a property we are familiar with due to its frequent use as a convention site over the last few years.  While I’ve not looked at the total amount of function space used by recent Worldcons, I’m pretty sure that a Worldcon would require every piece of function space available at the Town and Country.  This is where much of the problem would come into play.  At the very least, the exhibition hall on the west side – which would probably need to be used for some subset of large hall functions: dealers’ room, art show and fan table/exhibits – and two medium sized and three small sized rooms on the east side have access challenges.

On top of that, I don’t think there is quite enough sleeping rooms at the T&C, so one or more overflow hotel would be required.  And there are no overflow hotels that are walkable to the T&C.  The other hotels on Hotel Circle are close, but the area isn’t walkable.  The other choice would be the two other Mission Valley hotels on the trolley line, requiring taking the trolley to and from the con.]

The final thing to overcome is the poor reputation the T&C currently has in spite of a number of successful cons at that venue.

After pretty much eliminating the T&C, we moved to the San Diego Convention Center and one or both of the adjacent hotels.  Our memory-based analysis was that we could probably do Worldcon using part or all of the 2nd floor, with the Sails Pavilion being used for dealers’ room, art show and the fan tables/exhibition area.  Further, if the budget allowed us to get Ballroom 20 set up with the same staging and tech that Comic-Con uses, we’d be more than able to let everyone who wants to see the Masquerade and Hugo Awards in, since Comic-Con puts more people in there than are currently attending Worldcon regularly.

The problems with this are the lack of smaller rooms in the convention center – forcing us to use hotel space for some functions – and the price of hotel rooms.  A quick check showed that rates this year near labor day for the Marriott were running nearly $200.00 a night, which puts them beyond the point at which fans will blanch at the price.

This led to my conclusion that if San Diego fandom wanted to even think about running a Worldcon, we’d need to “carpet bag” the Anaheim Convention Center and the adjacent Hilton and Marriott – the convention center and hotels used in 2006 for LA Con IV, as well as for the 1999 NASFiC, LA Con III in 1996, and I believe one or both of the prior LA Cons.

But if San Diego fandom were to do this, we’d clearly need the support of the fen in Orange County (if they do more than throw orange business cards on a table at LosCon) and in the rest of the greater L.A./Inland Empire area; at which point it would start looking an awful lot like an LA Bid – which rumors are may be brewing for 2019 or 2021.



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From:rono_60103
Date:September 9th, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC)
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One thing about Worldcon is that it uses a lot of space for the number of people. My quick count shows that Chicon 7 had over 30 tracks/rooms dedicated to programming - admittedly including Art Show docent tours, Autographing sessions in the Dealers' Room and Kaffeclatches in the Con Suite. On top of that, Chicon used a 70,000 square foot exhibition hall just for dealers' room (40,000 square feet) and fan table/exhibition (30,000 square feet - with about 1/3 given to exhibits that aren't required for a Worldcon).

The art show had another 16,000 square feet, and the room used for Opening Ceremonies, Masquerade, and the Hugo Awards - which wasn't big enough for the latter two - was 24,282 square feet.

Now, Chicago is one of the two places that has extra-large Worldcons. But the other is L.A., so a San Diego Worldcon would be comparable to a Chicon.

Comparing to the T&C: the largest space in the T&C is the Grand Hall at 40,700 square feet - large enough for dealers' room and nothing else. The full Atlas ballroom is only 24,043 square feet - so good for fan tables/exhibition and/or art show, but without a lot of left over room. The other large spaces would be the full Golden Pacific Ballroom (split between dealers' room/art show and medium sized panel rooms at WFC 2011 and Anime Conji 4) is 17,589 square feet - or can be cut into a room of 11,808 square feet and three rooms of 1,927 square feet. The only remaining large space is the Regency ballroom - on the east side of the facility - is a mere 5,550 square feet.

Honestly, as I've been looking at the numbers, I'm not even sure that we could fit a Worldcon in the T&C - at least not one of Chicon's size (about 6,000 bodies on site). I know a couple of people were thinking of bidding it a few years back, but I think that they would have found the space jammed in, or would have required using some off site facilities, something that Worldcon site selection voters don't like all that much (they don't like having to travel between parts of the con)