From Conception to Convention Part 5: “We’re Going to Make this Place Your Home”

Let’s take a jump into our Wayback Machines and revisit the early days of GrandCon, shortly after Brian and I got together.  If you’re going to put on an event of any kind, especially one of large scope, one of the first things you have to do is figure out where it is going to take place.  It’s one thing to have a game day of 10-15 people.  It’s another to have a party to
accommodate 50 or so.  But to have an event whose hopeful attendance begins at 200+ is a horse of a different color.  And based on some conversations we’re having, we may see attendance of 1500!!!

My wife has had great success chairing my kids’ school auction for the past few years.  One of her primary duties was finding the space, and so it was to her we turned to do our initial scouting.  After many phone calls and an organized spreadsheet, Brian and I had about 15 different venues to visit.  Of those 15, we were able to narrow it down to 5 that seemed like true prospects.  And so we set aside a day to go around town and visit with the various locations.

I had initially begun an entry weeks ago to let you know about all of the nuances of scouting for a location, but it began to get very long.  Let me just highlight a few of the details that ruled out some locations:

Location #1: Starting price was $7,000!  Yes you read that right.  As Brian and I are cash-flowing this out of our own pockets—no loans, no credit cards, just good ol’ American greenbacks—they quickly eliminated themselves.

Location # 2: Beautiful though the facility was, it was located in a terrible area.  Parking and safety are genuine concerns.  No one wants to visit a venue where you have to worry about being shot or robbed on the walk from your car to the front

Location #3: Ideal in many ways, but had a minimum food order of $4,000, not negotiable.  Not sure that we would even
have that many people to feed, I could not imagine having a need for that much food.  And so another one bites the dust.

Location  #s 4 & 5: Our final destinations of the day were another hotel and a conference center on a college campus.  When all was said and done, both of these facilities had what we were asking for: they were each in a good location, the price was right, and the interiors were fantastic for our needs, though they were very different.  The hotel had what you might view as a very traditional convention style layout: a hallway with conference rooms to either side that could be divided as we needed.  The conference center had a much less traditional layout, but the interior was so much more than your standard
conference hall.

Then it came time to negotiate.  There were issues with space pricing, food pricing, what was taxed and what was not, and probably a few other things that I am forgetting by now.  As a first year convention, we were watching our budget very
closely.  Both facilities had what we thought we needed, but at the end of the day, one came in about 25% higher than the
other.  All other things being equal, the decision was made, and we were proud to place our convention at the Prince
Conference Center, located on the Calvin College Campus.

Heretofore I have mentioned a lot of things, but I have not mentioned customer service.  The rep at Prince has been and continues to be fantastic.  She has over a decade of experience in her field, and has been incredibly receptive to Brian’s and my ongoing vision of what GrandCon will look like.   So while not set in stone, I’m excited to lay out what GrandCon will
look like in September 2013 (details are subject to change):

Welcome to the Prince Conference Center!

The Great Hall will be divided into 2 areas.  2/3 will be for our Dealer Room, for both retailers and artists.  The remaining 1/3 will be in use for our MTG Mox tournament and draft play.

The frontroom is called the Fireside Room because its atmosphere is dominated by two flanking floor-to-ceiling fireplaces at either end.  We can’t imagine a better room in which to place our 9 tables of RPGs.

A roaring fire to set the mood for some role playing.

The Willow Room to the rear of the building that holds over 100 gamers.  That will house our game library, and it is
with great joy that I can say that our new convention will be home to the same game library that visits Gen Con, with over 1000 games.

And the final room, the Boardroom, will be home to our seminars, movies, and LARPers.

This state-of-the-art room will host films, seminars, and LARPs.

***UPDATE: Since the original time of this writing back in December, we have taken up the very last room, the President’s
Dining Room, which will house even more scheduled gaming!!!***

The Prince is also attached to a 69-room hotel, and we have negotiated a reduced room rate for our convention attendees.   When you come down from your room you are greeted by a complimentary breakfast, and the convention is no more than 30 feet away.   Coffee, water, cookies, and other snacks will be available to our attendees all day long, free of charge.

Refreshments await our convention guests

We have worked hard to give our convention the feel of a mini-Origins or –Gen Con, and the details, big and small, are coming together to make it happen.  The Prince Conference Center is an amazing place to hold our inaugural event, and we can’t thank them enough for their service. We’ll see you there!
Marc Specter

Manager, GrandCon

Recorded 15 February 2013

Related posts:

  1. From Conception to Convention Part 4: U-Con and Fanfare
  2. From Conception to Convention Part 2: The Only Ship That Won’t Sail, You Say?
  3. From Conception to Convention Part 3: Extra Life 2012
  4. From Conception to Convention Prelude & Part 1: How I Got Here
  5. MACE Convention Wrap-up
One Response to “From Conception to Convention Part 5: “We’re Going to Make this Place Your Home””
  1. Matthew says:

    I have heard great things about Prince, and we can’t wait to see it all geeked out.

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