Hey gang, Gary here for a very rare second article of the week. I have been working on this for a while, so it was bound to be published sometime.
Let the speculation begin on where the 2011 convention will be. Actually it has….
Frankly those new to the hobby were a little spoiled this go-around by having the club announce in Kansas City that we would be in Providence in 2010. Con vets realize this is a rare but appreciated treat by the club to have all their eggs lined up enough to announce the next location less than a year out. It seems like the BotCon’ers know where they are going to be next year, but what about Joe? Back in 2003 and 2004, it was the norm for the club to announce, so rest assured, the club not announcing this time is not a sign of bad things, it is just a sign of the same ol’-same ol’ club that we know and love returning to normal.
Location is important to a large number of the fandom. If the con isn’t close or convenient, they are not coming. Location means almost nothing to me. I’m going to go whenever and where ever the con goes. I use it as a vacation. So do I necessarily want it in my backyard? No, not really. Would a local con kill me? Nah, I’ll survive, but it is my prerogative to grumble. Let’s not even try to speculate on what the con set will be. I will say two things on this, it will be Modern Era construction and it won’t be a re-hash…back to the topic on hand.
Before I start this portion, I am limiting previous convention history to those only promoted by Fun Publications (aka Master Collector to the majority of the community). To review, those sites are San Jose, San Antonio, DC, Irvine, Kansas City 1, Norfolk, San Fran, Orlando, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City 2,
So where it WON’T be:
While I know nothing officially, I am just going off previous club statements. You won’t see the con on the West Coast. It is simple math folks. ROBOTS + WEST COAST = BOTCON. JOE + WEST COAST = FAIL. While my first con was in San Fran and it was a heck of a good time, the dealer’s room was small and the attendance was the lowest I’ve seen – to date. Of course things were different in the hobby back then. Personally, I would dig a west coast con and so would a whole bunch of fans. Secondly, you can also be pretty much assured that there won’t be a combined Transformers-Joe con this time either. Rumor has it that Hasbro wants this to happen. In my opinion, whether it is true or not, if Hasbro wants to combine TF and Joe, I suggest they keep that at Comic Con where that belongs. Let’s keep JoeCon BOT free (looking at you Hasbro). It would then be truly “DETH OF TEH LINE!” if we had to walk the floors with people dressed in cardboard boxes wrapped in tin foil. It would be a sad sad day indeed. Third, I also doubt it will be anywhere in the northeast corridor. I suspect NYC would be too expensive. Boston is too close to Providence, so sorry Beantowners, no such luck for you. I can’t quite gauge Philly. It has been ages since I have been to Philadelphia, so I actually wouldn’t mind a stop there, but I doubt it is a choice.
Go forth to where you’ve been before:
Of late, there has been a pattern of the club reusing past sites from either the Joe or TF conventions. To date, the club has made Kansas City only for Joe con, but history bares mentioning. The club has also flip flopped Dallas, Providence, and Orlando. Knowing a west coast Pasadena, San Jose or San Fran con is out, could a Joe con in Lexington or Cincy be in our futures? Or could the club throw us a curveball and return to another previous JoeCon site? I don’t know how much Lexington has to offer, but as someone who has been to Cincy many many times, I always thought it to be an accommodating city, and it has a major Delta hub so getting there would be a snap for most and a short drive for me. I know many who would like to see Orlando again but with BotCon just being there, I doubt a close repeat….but I very well could be wrong.
LET’S GO BACK:
New Orleans was still the top spot for my con-going experience. I hate the Saints and will never forgive them for beating my Colts, but nothing beat the fun there and the night-life was awesome. If the club ever wanted to go back to another site again, this writer highly encourages The Big Easy again!
While conventions like My Little Pony and Barbie go to Vegas, Joe Con does not. The club always prides itself on a “family” atmosphere, but I always perceived MLP and Barbie as more family oriented then Joe and THEY go to Sin City. Could it be the club does not know its core audience?? Since the Joe Con-going-population is mostly adult, a Vegas Joe Convention would rule them all. I also think Seattle would be cool. The Northwest is more than deserving.
If none of the above, then where…:
Popular opinion has the Midwest as the preferable location. Now, I don’t say this because I live there, I just say this from talking from other people.
Chicago – A modern metropolis. The 3rd largest city in the USA and a place that everyone knows. Chi-town has a major airport and plenty of places to see and do. The Pier, Shed Aquarium, Field Museum, Planetarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry are all great places to spend your time. Depending on the time of year, maybe you could catch a game at Wrigley or Soldier Field. I can’t speak highly of Chicago enough. However, if I have to point at one negative is that the city is anything but cheap. If you have ever drove into the Windy City or stayed the night there you will quickly learn the place puts a beating on the wallet. The club has said once already that a site like Chicago is probably not within their scope. We will see. Still, for most in the country, all airports eventually point to O’Hare, so getting there is no big deal.
Detroit – Served by a major Delta/Northwest hub and easy access to Canada, Detroit could be a good location. People seem scared about the crime there. I know nothing about that, but my time in Detroit has been mainly limited to either the airport, the suburbs or passing through on my way to Canada Con. When I think Detroit, I think “MEH…”, but it is a bad city for the con? No…
Nashville – Not your big metro sized city like Chicago, but it is bigger than Providence and on par with Kansas City. Not a major airport there, but you should get there in one hop or less. Not sure about the night life, but I hear it is a fun town from more than one person. I spent a considerable amount of time here in 2003, but I was mainly relegated to the suburbs. I could see the club putting the con in the Brentwood area, which is south of the city, but is a bit more modern and home to a couple major corporate headquarters.
Memphis – Keeping with the Tennessee theme, the time I spent in Memphis was awesome. Beal Street rocks and having Graceland nearby has a nice sidetrip written all over it. Don’t forget, The King was in the military. I would so buy a 12″ set if they featured an Pressley looking figure. I am assuming the licensing costs of an actual Elvis figure would be rather large. Anyway, I digress. While Memphis is not a major metropolis like Chicago, it does have a major airport, mainly due to FedEx, but Delta/Northwest uses it as a minor hub, so again, getting there is not an issue. Memphis is the 19th largest city in the USA and is roughly the same size as Charlotte, Columbus and Boston. Did I mention Beal Street (yes, I know, but it is totally worth mentioning again!)? Did I mention Graceland? Oh yeah, BB Kings….got to mention that. I would give the club major major props for a Memphis Con.
Cleveland – Served by a major Continental hub and home to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland would make an alright choice. The NFL Hall of Fame is close by. Close proximity to Canada would also allow our Canadian brothers to show up too. Beyond that, much like my feelings on Detroit, there is nothing there that really yells “Come to Cleveland” to me (and apparently to LeBron James either, BA-ZING!). On the upside, I think Hot in Cleveland is a funny show.
Columbus – Some people would be surprised to know just how big Columbus is. In a state that includes Cleveland and Cincinnati, Columbus is larger than both and the 16th largest city in the US overall. While lacking that “major league” feel of its neighbors, Columbus is a nice little burg and would make a nice spot for the con. Two years ago the COIL Club had a table at the local toy show and met a lot of fellow Joe fans. There is a big built-in fan base here. Once again, the drives from the East Coast and Lower Midwest should be reasonable. Since Columbus is not a hub airport, you are most likely changing planes to get here, so air travel presents a small, but manageable challenge.
Pittsburgh – A small but vocal community of the fandom is rooting for Pittsburgh. Hey, I am OK with PIT (yes, pun intended). It is a reasonable distance to drive from the northeast corridor cities of DC, Philly, NYC and Boston. Further west, folks from the Midwest and Upper Midwest are only a short flight away. In terms of size, Pittsburgh ranks ahead in size than other con sites such as Norfolk, Orlando, Kansas City and Providence, so Pittsburgh would rank right smack dab in the middle, size-wise, during the Fun Pub era. Pittsburgh also as an aggressive chamber of commerce who has been bringing in large gatherings and conventions as of late. Could 2011 be the year we visit the real PIT?
St. Louis – The Gateway City would make an fantastic spot for the next convention. It’s central location along with its numerous options of things to do make this an ideal location. While every bit as “major league” as Chicago and Cleveland, St. Louis is also much cheaper and laid back. It is a fairly easy, yet boring drive, for many in the Midwest and Plains states to make their way to St. Louis for a long weekend. As for things to do in St. Louis, one word comes to mind – BEER.
Indianapolis – OK, I have been putting this one off to the last. Mainly because I live here and I DO NOT want it here, but I will also recognize it can certainly hold a con the size of Joecon pretty easy. Indy is a major convention site including the annual GenCon and Black Expo events. Previously the Star Wars folks used to hit here for Celebration. On the sports side of things, Indy is the amateur sports capital of the world hosting the Pan Am Games in 1987 and several Olympic Qualifying events for the USOC. Indy’s jewel sporting event is the Indianapolis 500 – the largest single-day sporting event in the world, followed by the Brickyard 400. Indy is also home to the NCAA and thus holds either the men’s or women’s Final Four every 5 years. Conceco Fieldhouse is home to the Big 10 Basketball Tournament and Lucas Oil Stadium will host the 2012 Super Bowl (and eventual Big Ten Football Championship game). You will find no finer sporting venues anywhere outside of an Olympic host city than Indianapolis. Indy is not a small town either. It is the 14th largest US city by population and 3rd largest in the Midwest; only Chicago and Detroit are bigger. It is larger than other former convention sites such as Minneapolis, Atlanta, Kansas City and Orlando. Indy is also the 2nd most populous state capital, only behind Phoenix. Everything you need is downtown. As the state motto says, it is the Crossroads of America – all roads eventually lead to Indy. With a brand spanking new airport, centralized downtown, and yours truly as an unwilling host, Indy is built to handle large gatherings pretty easily. I pimped this city too much, now GO AWAY!
Charlotte – I think Charlotte is the only strong remaining candidate on the east coast. Besides being home of our favorite redneck sport, NASCAR, Charlotte has the largest hub for US Air. I like Charlotte. It is an up and coming city. Modern, clean and vibrant. Charlotte sounds like a great host city for the convention.
Austin – Austin gets lost compared to the Dallas’, Houstons’, and San Antonios’ of the world. It is the capital of the great state of Texas and is probably their fastest growing metro area. There is lots of tech industry here and somehow they landed a possible future date on the Formula 1 World Championship – that date should go back to Indy, but I digress, no one is here to read about F1. Anyway, Austin would get a big thumbs up from me, but in the summer, it will be damn hot down there. Anyone remember Dallas?
Lots of honorable mentions. Too many to list.
My two cents:
Did you think I would just end this entry without giving my preference (other than New Orleans – see above)?? In no particular order: Charlotte, St. Louis, Memphis, Pittsburgh….and *sigh*, yes Indy. Where do I think it will be? Probably Orlando – I hope I am wrong.
While the latest club newsletter says that it will be by the end of summer, I would not doubt that it will go into the fall before we hear the next official peep. Let me send a shout out to the GIJCC and say: “COME ON ALREADY!!”
Anyone care to place any odds on a location…or even when the club will announce? Want to lobby for your own city? Tell us what you think! Put your comments below!