(Sorry, that should be FROM Milwaukee. I can't seem to change it now. Hope a mod can change it.)
<Done - Roderick>
I've been reading through all the threads about people complaining about the lack of hotels and the general talk of Gen Con should be moving to a different city. That got me trying to remember what the move from Milwaukee to Indianapolis was like. So I looked through my old program books and found this. (Google Photo album link to photos of 2002 program book pages. And Photos was being fussy about the order so 2 pages of the 4-page spread are switched in order.
First, there is a letter from Peter Adkison explaining he just bought Gen Con earlier in the year and he was moving it to Indianapolis. A big reason? "We love Milwaukee and many of us have memories dating back many years here, but there seems to be no way of fixing the space problems while staying in Milwaukee. So, yes, starting next year, Gen Cons new home will be in Indianapolis, Indiana."
Then there is a 2-page spread hyping up Indy. "In Milwaukee, hotel rooms are coveted because they are hard to come by. Indianapolis will be a welcome relief with a wide variety of accommodations to choose from. In fact, that's one of the leading reasons why we are moving. There are SIX hotels that connect directly to the convention center via skyways, and may others are in walking distance. There are over 5,000 rooms available in the downtown area alone!"
Next, there is a 1 page letter from an old timer at the time talking about it will be sad to move from Milwaukee, but Indy is the future and everyone should look forward to it.
And finally, there is a 4-page article from Randy Porter telling the history of Gen Con and detailing all the moves it had made in the past.
So much of it is exactly the same kind of talk people are having now. The interesting thing to me is how fast it happened.
Thanks for posting this.
I clearly remember the days leading up to GenCon leaving Milwaukee. They started with polls asking if you would continue going to the con if it moved and also what alternate cities would you go to (kinda similar to polls that we've seen in the past year or so).
Unfortunately GenCon will be moving Indy, at least in my belief. Enjoy your time in Indy while it lasts.
Gen Con isn't going anywhere. There is literally no city with comparable downtown rooms that isn't either too far (midwest is driveable by most of the country) or completely changes the culture and feel of the convention.
Fascinating read, thanks! Great reminder that Gen Con never stays the same, it is an evolving phenomenon which has never been perfect but always been fun.
Realistically Gen Con has nowhere to move that will let it still be Gen Con.
Multiple Gen Con also will not work. It was tried repeatedly in the past and failed. Exhibitors can only attend so many shows in a year, and attendees will still favor the "main" Gen Con.
Milwaukee turned into a mess right before the move. Luckily it had somewhere to move to. If we want to avoid the same problem Gen Con has to control attendance, either by capping attendance or cutting out events. Indy simply cannot handle a larger Gen Con. Yeah, attendance will eventually level off on its own, but it will level off at the point where the city is swamped.
Forget about just housing problems. I like having a semi-reasonable place to park. I like not having 2 hour waits for lunch and restaurants not refusing reservations because they are overwhelmed. I like the idea of at least being able to go to the food court at the mall and being able to find a place to sit and eat. I like being able to walk down the hallways of the convention center without tripping over card players sitting in the aisles. I like being only semi annoyed by crowds aimlessly blocking up the aisles in the exhibit hall when I am trying to get somewhere.
Luckily Gen Con had a place to move to from Milwaukee. It solved a lot of problems, and was glorious for the first few years. We don't have that luxury any more.
I agree that Gen Con wont be leaving Indy. the biggest reason can be summed up in one word "COMPETITION!". The only two places that I can think of that have the space and hotels needed are Orlando and Vegas. Both locations are problematic as neither is centrally located. If you hold the con at either one you loose a majority of the attendees from the other coast. Also both make it hard for anyone that lives in the northern part of the US to attend. Also in Indy, we are the only show in town and have little competition for rooms from outside sources. Orlando you will compete with Disney world for rooms and the cost will be higher. Vegas is Vegas. The competition for rooms is constant. Also there is the fact that the convention will be in competition for every minuet and dollar the attendees spend! In Iny, there are a few things to go to other than the con but for the most part the convention is going to win out with most of the attendees. Vegas and Orlando are a different story all together! Casinos, shows and Disney are a BIG temptation even for hard core gamers. Too much risk not enough reward for the convention as I see it.
If GenCon moves it will be because they run out of convention space since there are plenty of hotels in the Indy metro. Then nearly everyone will be stuck commuting some then. People who are wishing for GenCon to move and expecting some miracle with housing are delusional and/or misinformed.
It took 35+ years to get to 25,000 attendees to necessitate the move to Indy.
It took 15 more years to get to two and a half times that number.
I feel there has to be a great combination of a decent amount of rooms available, be centrally located (nationally), and have a large enough convention center.
Unless there's a place that has exponentially more hotel rooms available, they'll outgrow another place in a less amount of years it took them to outgrow Indy (if my rudimentary logic holds). And I don't think there's a place that's exponentially larger. Orlando comes to mind - the Orange County convention Center is larger than the ICC, there's 10 hotels within a 1/2 mile, and another 12 hotels between a 1/2 mile and a mile away (and more past the 1 mile marker). But I don't think there are many more rooms available. And it's not as centrally located as Indy. Baltimore is a little better
Ideally, they should probably limit attendance. Not the greatest idea, but the one that would make the most sense (in my opinion, at least).
I posted this a week or so ago in another similar thread, but I thought it might bear repeating as it is germane to this conversation as well.
I think the convention is fine in Indianapolis. Downtown space is limited, but there are still plenty of hotel rooms available in a reasonable commute to the convention center. It is crowded but there is still space in the convention center.
I think increasing the price of the downtown block would solve that issue through natural selection. That might in turn help with a natural attendance cap versus an artificial one that really doesn't benefit anyone.
If the convention had to move, I would support moving it to Dallas as they have a convention center with 2,000,000 square feet of room and about 60+ hotels within 5 miles of it. Unfortunately, I think only one is directly connected to it but there is a light rail system that has two lines connecting to the convention center and parking is only $15 a day and that is right under the convention center.
Plus DFW Airport is easily accessible by almost any airport in the US directly to save travel time, expense, and hassle. It is in the center of the country geographically and not really that expensive when compared to LA, Chicago, or New York, etc.
I like Indianapolis and would oppose a move and I do not like the idea of Las Vegas, San Diego, or Orlando, but I think Dallas would be the next best choice if you ask me.
Last I checked, Chicago had the biggest convention center in North America, is centrally located, and I'm guessing it has a few more hotels than Indy. I know very little about Chicago - those that know can say whether it would be a good host city for Gen Con.
Could Gen Con move and expand to fill more convention space? Certainly. I think Gen Con could grow bigger than Essen, because Gen Con offers vendors AND events. Essen is all vendors.
It already is larger than Essen. The numbers you are thinking of are turnstile attendance, and Gen-Con's turnstile attendance was 30,000 higher last year than Essen Spiel's.
Speaking as an Illinoisian, Chicago would not be an improvement. Its connected hotel situation is comparatively terrible, which as you may have noticed is a big deal for our beloved convention, even if the space itself I suppose is larger (taking your word for it). It will be interesting to see this year's attendance, as it will demonstrate whether 60,000 is a rough ceiling or whether the 50th Anniversary coupled with the continuing explosion of board gaming will accelerate things further.
It is always tough to argue where Gen-Con should move to, because it quite honestly seems to be in the best possible location overall already, even if moving it elsewhere could make some things easier while making others much harder (like the perennial Las Vegas suggestion--a terrible idea for any summer convention, not to mention any family-oriented convention, or any convention where part of the fun is "taking over" the host city [Chicago would have some of that last problem as well]).
Also limiting the number of attendees would be incredibly disappointing, so we should just never discuss it :D haha. I got excited about going to PAX when I lived in Seattle for a few years, and I never managed to get tickets. Needless to say, I have no interest in attending PAX now, whereas I get excited about Gen-Con every year.
Speaking selfishly, I'd love to Gen Con to stay in Indy. It's turned into a mini friend-cation since several of my friends take some time off work, and we all putz around the con together for a day or two. The only reason we can do this is because we all live here, and if Gen Con moved somewhere else, I'm not sure any of us could really afford to go.
Gen Con tends to be our primary vector for new games. It exposes us to new things, gives us a chance to try them out, and usually purchase some to start bringing to our game nights. Then a couple of us will add more across the year. Heck, this is how I got a ton of iello mini-games that are FANTASTIC fillers or quick plays when there's only a few people attending. I'd really hate to see it leave the city, though the hotel situation is definitely less than ideal.
I live in Chicago, and I'll confirm that McCormick Place would be an awful substitute for the ICC. You can't walk to anything from McCormick. I think there's one connected hotel. Everything else would require a bus ride. Gen Con is embracing the Lucas Oil Arena this year, and that should give us all the space we need. as for hotels, if you count everything within a 15 minute drive, Indy has as much capacity as Chicago. If you want to walk, Indy wins hands down.
I saw someone suggest Baltimore. First time I have seen it mentioned. I was born in Baltimore though haven't lived in the area since 2010. I do not remember the size of the convention center but I know it holds quite a bit of space & is connected by their light rail system. The Inner Harbor area is beautiful, but some of the surrounding areas are not as desirable lets say.. You can also light rail from BWI to downtown Baltimore & its really cheap. Biggest problem I think Baltimore has is its on the east coast so lots of flying, but unlike Orlando (tons of toll roads surround the airport) & Vegas (must take bus or taxi to the strip) there is a cheap way to get to the convention center area downtown.
Here are some facts from their website:
Total Square Footage: 1,225,000 Square Feet
Exhibit Halls: 300,000 Square Feet
Meeting Rooms: 85,000 Square Feet
Ballroom: 36,000 Square Feet
Looks like there are plenty of hotels in the near by area, though a couple blocks away.
I for one love Indy as its closer to me in Detroit, but Baltimore would be nice to visit once a year again.
The Exhibit hall at GenCon is bigger than all of Baltimore's exhibit space. Last year GenCon's exhibit hall took up halls F, G, H, I, J, and K for a total of 335000 square feet of space.
There is another 223000 square feet of exhibit hall space used for gaming as well.
GenCon attendance is soaring, in part due to its location.
However, Indy, being the best site-specific location (regarding proximity of hotels/events/food) bar far, is having trouble with capacity. This is a good problem, and will take several years to work itself out.
Should GenCon be moved elsewhere, the location will have to mirror Indy's advantages, and currently nowhere does, and none of them are trying.
The housing space is a problem. I am fortunate enough to live about an hour away and thus don't need a place. However, it can be a hassle to drive to an outer ring hotel, but if you don't want to drive an extra 10-20 minutes to get downtown, than maybe the con isn't for you.