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Sympathies to the Seattle Bidders

Earlier tonight, Bobbie DuFault announced the end of the Seattle in 2011 Worldcon bid. Other groups booked the facilities they planned to use, and there weren't any viable alternatives for them to pursue.

All of us on the Reno bid thank Bobbie and her bid committee for a cordial race against worthy opponents. Speaking for myself, I think the challenge of the competition helped strengthen both bids, and I'm sorry that competition ended abruptly six months sooner than any of us expected it to. Just three weeks ago, we shared a bid table at Arisia, and Seattle's gorgeous website set a new standard for bids to strive for.

Our condolences to Bobbie and the entire Seattle bid committee.

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
holyoutlaw
Feb. 7th, 2009 05:43 am (UTC)
As horrified as I was at the idea of a worldcon in Seattle, I'm saddened the bid had to be cancelled for such an arbitrary reason. Bummer!
gerisullivan
Feb. 7th, 2009 07:14 am (UTC)
Ah, yup. Much as I'm in favor of having the 2011 Worldcon in Reno, I wanted that to be fandom's choice between the competitors rather than one bid having to withdraw because their facilities weren't available.

Much as the entire Minneapolis in '73 mythos is built on a bid that withdrew before the vote took place, having to withdraw strikes me as an utterly heartbreaking position to be in. So many dreams, so many plans, so much work, only to have to stop before the natural end of the process. Hard times.

minnehaha
Feb. 7th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
I know nothing about WorldCons and wouldn't have gone in either case, but I've been to both cities repeatedly and can tell you that Seattle is way more fun than Reno.

B
volund
Feb. 7th, 2009 08:42 am (UTC)
Although I'm presuppporting Reno, I'd also have liked to see the contest play out.
ckd
Feb. 7th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
Same here, on both counts.
ceemage
Feb. 7th, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
Condolences to the Seattle bid. If it had gone to a vote, they would -- at worst -- have had privilege of channelling Dick Tuck, and being able to say "The people have spoken -- the bastards!"

Will the Reno bid (after a discreet interval) be inviting some of the Seattle crew on board? Or does the oft-mentioned concept of "the Permanent Floating Worldcon Committee" mean that this pretty much happens anyway?

Of course, this will re-re-ignite the old discussion about 2-year bidding vs. 3-year bidding. Heck, it already has in this household (Non-fannish mrs. ceemage: "Maybe they should vote on bids earlier." Me: "Well, they already tried that, but...")
gerisullivan
Feb. 7th, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)
Yes, Seattle and San Francisco both lost their preferred sites with a 3-year lead time in the 2002 race. If the San Francisco bid hadn't been able to secure space in San José, it could have easily been interesting times at the business meeting. More lead time isn't the answer, and even under ideal conditions, losing facilities, or being unable to secure the desired facilities, is something that happens from time to time. There are things bidders can and do accomplish that help minimize how often it happens, but it is among the things that go with the territory, alas.
minnehaha
Feb. 7th, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC)
"Other groups booked the facilities they planned to use, and there weren't any viable alternatives for them to pursue."

That hurts.

Is this is a common problem -- due to the fact that committees can't sign contracts until they actually win -- or did Seattle just get unlucky?

B
gerisullivan
Feb. 7th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)
Yes, it hurts.

Committees can and do sign contracts before they actually win. Reno has fully-negotiated signed contracts with all of our facilities. They contain a clause that all of the arrangements are conditional on the bid winning the vote. If the bid loses, *poof* -- the contract ends. But if another group comes along and wants the space? The facilities have to honor the regular cancellation clauses in order to end the contract. And that tends to cost a lot, both in dollars and in reputation.

Indeed, one of the places we've seen problems in recent years comes when bids wait until after the vote to nail down contracts with their facilities. The Worldcon's negotiating position with the facilities they want to use is greatly weakened once the element of competition is removed...even in the case of an uncontested bid. I'm very happy that our contracts with Reno were fully negotiated while the facilities reps in Reno knew they had to look good in comparison to Seattle. Because, as you said so above, Seattle is unarguably the more popular tourist destination of the two.

While it's not Seattle, Reno has some tourist appeal, including things with fannish appeal like excellent sky-gazing. The timing of the convention means pre-con touristing can include the Perseid's meteor showers. Overall, the site is an excellent fit for the Worldcon. That's why we started bidding for it in the first place, and why we focused on nailing down the facilities even as we were out introducing the bid and throwing parties all over the place.
minnehaha
Feb. 7th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
I'm also sure the Reno hotels were more willing to sign that sort of lopsided contract. Seattle hotels know they get all kinds of convention business, and might not have been willing to sign until it was real.

B
gerisullivan
Feb. 7th, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC)
That could well have been the case.

Boston in 2004 and the Chicago in 2008 bid each had conditional contracts in place. The specifics of the clauses vary by contract. In theory, it's still possible to loose the space. In practice, having the contracts in place makes a big difference.


minnehaha
Feb. 7th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
"Overall, the site is an excellent fit for the Worldcon."

Probably. The most important are probably good hotel space, cheap hotel rooms, and cheap airfare. Reno hotels are subsidized by gambling -- boy are they going to be surprised by how little fans gamble -- so it makes sense to take advantage of the fact.

B
galtine1
Feb. 7th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
I'm still not convinced the Atlantis/RenoCC/Peppermill is a good spot unless the '11 Worldcon trends smaller -- which would be a bad thing for future US locations as those stats are used to help spec out contracts and hotels.

It would make an excellent Nasfic site as those trend smaller.
shikzoid
Feb. 9th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
If Reno is like Las Vegas I think they'll also be surprised at how much we take advantage of the cheap food. Love them loss-leaders.
gerisullivan
Feb. 7th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
I am partially mistaken above -- the cost to the facilities to cancel the contract before the vote takes place depend on the specifics of the contract in question. In practice, what we've seen so far is that facilities stop trying to sell the space once the signed, conditional contracts are in place.

If I understand correctly, and All That Jazz.
minnehaha
Feb. 9th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)
Are the Reno Worldcon dates offset from Burningman?

K.
minnehaha
Feb. 9th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC)
Never mind; I checked. There's about a week between the end of Worldcon and the beginning of Burningman. Well, Brad Templeton will be pleased at any rate.

K.
gerisullivan
Feb. 9th, 2009 12:44 pm (UTC)
Yes, as you discovered, the dates are offset. I wish we were a bit closer in time to Burningman, though the idea of going straight from Worldcon into Burningman sounds....umm...intense.

You're right; Brad and Kathryn were very pleased to hear the dates don't conflict. We talked last July, and then again in Denver, where they donated the leftover supplies from the Making Light party to the Reno suite. And food values at the Making Light party were as interesting and high as one might expect. I can still taste that utterly delicious apple pie from voidampersand that Kathryn added to the tower of party treats stacked on the Reno cart. Yum.
thirdworld
Feb. 10th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
It was a tragedy. Nobody with a heart would say otherwise. A lot of disappointed folks on that side... along with the usual, "Phew, now I have more time for 'X'!" comments.

I'm glad my involvement was peripheral (and accidental) and that I'm not one of the super-invested folks. Nothing sadder in fandom than a room full of people who just lost a vote, and this situation is similar.

I still have a lot of reservations about Reno. I kinda hate casino hotels and all their excesses and endless tobacco smoke that in truth is hard to avoid. Plus there is little appeal for me in going to Reno itself. It is not a destination and there is not really any local Worldcon-compatible fandom worth thinking about. I think these factors will see it stay small and I think on the tail of Denver (which was small), Montreal and Oz (which are expected to be small and tiny) that this is a very bad thing. The Worldcon trends right now are not encouraging to me.

There is a chance that a cheapness factor will offset all this, but I still have my doubts. One way or another it will be an interesting fannish experiment that will render some good data, either because my doubts prove true, or because they prove false, or are partially true but offset by positives. I also have a vested interest in seeing a team like this run a Worldcon in a city that is not the usual, "strong Worldcon base," for my own reasons.

Further, Reno has what most likely is the strongest bid team of fannish volunteers ever to be assembled, so, unless that team is somehow not preserved, you know the Worldcon itself will be extremely well run. You also know that there are many other positives, because the team has got some great people who would not have gone that route otherwise.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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