As of 2013/2014, San Diego has:
- Two general interest/literary conventions: Condor and Conjecture.
- A Steampunk: Gaslight Gathering.
- Two gaming conventions: Kingdom Con (board gaming focus) and Gam3rcon (video game focus).
- An “Old School” Comic Book convention: Comic Fest.
- An Anime Convention: Anime Conji.
- The largest Comics and Pop Culture convention in the world: Comic-Con International (a.k.a San Diego Comic-Con)
In addition, we have Westercon 68 in 2015, and people planning on bidding for both Costume Con and SMOFCon in 2017.
Needless to say, San Diego has its fannish convention plate fairly full over the next few years. However, there is at least one person who keeps threatening to shanghai me into running a Worldcon bid (I keep telling him that if he throws money for me anything other than a planned event, he is either buying me dinner or paying Tara’s bail after she murders me).
So, below are some of my thoughts about a potential bid to put San Diego further onto the fannish map – specifically within Worldcon fandom (i.e. the people who go to Worldcon, or at least do when it is close enough to them).
1: I think that there is a desire to have another Worldcon in southern California sometime in the not-too distant future. Since LA Con I in 1972, there has been between 10 and 12 years between LA based Worldcons. (Looking a bit further back, Solacon was 14 years earlier in 1958 and Pacificon I was 12 years before that in 1946 – so if I said “between 10 and 14 years” I could say that this trend dates back to just after World War II). However, LA Con IV was in 2006. So by 2021, it will have been longer between Worldcons in the LA Area since the start of Worldcon.
2: San Diego is on course to show that we have what it takes to run a bigger convention. If we can win and successfully host three traveling cons, admittedly two with a narrow focus, over the next 4 years, in addition to the 2011 WFC, we will probably look pretty good in broader fannish circles, so a Worldcon (or NASFiC) bid wouldn’t be looked on all that badly. (FWIW, I suspect that there might be some preference not to look at a NASFiC due to lingering knowledge of San Diego NASFiC).
3: As noted above, we have a very busy convention schedule. And three of those events draw a lot of their people from the same pool of top- and mid-level volunteers. Many of these people will also be involved in a San Diego SMOFCon, and Costume Con. So there will be some exhaustion building in these people. So, any attempt to bid a Worldcon for San Diego would require a lot of people from outside of San Diego. Many of these could probably come from LA and Orange County during the bid, and the so-called permanent floating Worldcon committee would show up if we won. But we’d still need to build some new con workers (or at least pull them from the cons that have less staff overlap).
4: The Westercon bid taught me that I am not the best salesman for a convention. Also, as much as I like traveling and going to conventions, I don’t see me having the time, money or energy needed to be the point person on a Worldcon bid. That being said, I think I’d be a poor choice to head up the bid. Having only been involved in three Worldcon bids – and two of those I ended up mostly being the San Diego rep with negligible results – I also probably have a lot to learn on the bidding side of things.
5: I do have some thoughts – thoughts that Tara tries to scare out of me or otherwise discourage – that I am at least capable of serving as the chair or co-chair for an event the size of a Worldcon. I’m not 100% sure since I’ve never successfully built a con committee from scratch – but I’ll be, at least technically, doing that for Westercon. I don’t have a whole lot of experience in being a co-head, I’ve either been the head or not the head. But I know enough about my strengths and weaknesses as a leader that I think that someone exists who would complement my leadership.
6: Having been involved in two competitive Worldcon bids – and having a 1 and 1 record for those bids – I’d rather not start out competitive. As I understand it, bids exist or are at least contemplating: for every year up to 2022. Since I wouldn’t want to start bidding until 2018 (to get past SMOFCon before making the final go/no-go decision) that would leave us with 2020 and beyond. So our choices would be to go up against a more established bid or wait until 2023. But that is 10 years from now, and some of our more dedicated con-runners admit that they aren’t all that young anymore. On the other hand we have a couple of the founders/early joiners in the JOF group, and we’re planning on doing some con-running skill building sessions (if we can ever get our act together and not get distracted with actually running cons – or having kids in at least one case) so we may have replacements for them.
7: Before I would support a bid, I want to make sure that we have a facilities person with Worldcon or similar experience, and that we’re looking at the Convention Center , not the local hotel that could squeeze a Worldcon in (barely, IMHO). There are some of those around that I might be able to pull in.
8: Unless Comic-Con International moves out of San Diego (less likely than some like to report, at least if my information is accurate), I’d also want to ask them for specific, limited, support: primarily opening doors for us with the convention center, decorator, etc.; the loan of any material that they have that would be of use for a Worldcon (I don’t know what that would be, since I don’t know what is CCI’s and what is the decorator’s); and possibly support for the tech setups for major events. I’d like to be able to say that they are behind us, but are not trying to turn Worldcon into another Comic-Con or Wondercon.
OK, I think I’ve exhausted my thoughts here.
If you have any comments, feel free to share them. Note that this will possibly be being discussed in four (or five if I tweet) different places, so don’t be too surprised if I address comments not seen.