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Legitimately Why San Antonio?

SkelefishSkelefish Registered User regular
I know it's 2 years late, but I'm legitimately curious why PA chose San Antonio. I'm not here to start any form of a war or in any way slight the city of San Antonio. I love the city, have thoroughly enjoyed the past 2 years at PAX, and have next to nothing bad to say about it in my 30+ years. I bring this up merely as a conversation starter and a continuum from my hefty 5+ hour drive home thru Dallas where some friends and I weighed some possibilities. Anyone caring to chime in is welcome to:

Pro-SA
Geographically central-ish Texas
Approx an hour from Austin, TX (SXSW, numerous game developers and a very notable indie atmosphere, additional international airport from SA)
Has a versatile night life and recognized district(s) with many different venues and options to cater to (DFW has this as well, but much further spread out and not necessarily in a single area, save maybe Deep Ellum?)
San Antonio is relatively under-utilized as a con-hub (ergo dates available, prices, etc may have worked in their favor) as such this also gives PA the chance of helping 'shape' the communities as they grow
"Historical" recognition: Alamo, numerous Spanish missions, etc

Con-SA
Considered South Texas by state residents (DFW is usually referred to as the central Texas city as so many state and federal highways intersect nearby)
The DFW area has 2 major airports and numerous smaller fields along with freight lines and even train hubs (unsure about SA in this)
DFW has a long history of convention hosting and established organizations that support the communities.
"Historical" recognition: Dealey Plaza, Ft. Worth Stockyards, etc.

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    KeitreKeitre Registered User regular
    This question has been asked before, and if I remember right (someone correct me if not) the answer is that San Antonio had a convention center that could support a PAX now and in the future and DFW did not.

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    PotatoemanPotatoeman Registered User regular
    Like Keitre said, it is most certainly due to the Henry B Gonzalez convention center. It's enormous and they keep expanding it, which looked awesome to PA since they seem to always have problems with the venue space.

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    PAXisdopePAXisdope Registered User regular
    Not sure but after this weekend, I couldn't imagine a better place for it.

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    BailieBailie Registered User regular
    I'm in DFW so it would have saved me the hotel bill, but honestly I probably had more fun in SA. Everything was new, the city, the convention, the people... I get tired of DFW. But I will probably take a break from next year and give a little more time for new stuff to come out so it a new experience instead of just rehashing the same old thing.

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    zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
    In addition to all of the business pros and cons, I think there's a certain "feel" to it as well from the folks who run PAX. San Antonio felt right, I was told by more than one staffer, and I think that helped in the decision.

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    SkelefishSkelefish Registered User regular
    Bailie wrote: »
    I'm in DFW so it would have saved me the hotel bill, but honestly I probably had more fun in SA. Everything was new, the city, the convention, the people... I get tired of DFW. But I will probably take a break from next year and give a little more time for new stuff to come out so it a new experience instead of just rehashing the same old thing.

    Same here more or less. Did you fly or drive?

    Thanks all, was just curious.

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    BailieBailie Registered User regular
    drove, it was about 5 hours with bathroom stops.

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    spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    There are a lot of advantages to SA but one of the big ones was how willing and enthusiastic the convention people were to work with PA. I've heard repeatedly that they're the best of all the venues to work with by far and that in terms of logistics their favorite of the cons to plan.

    SA wants PAX, and that's worth a lot in terms of goodwill.

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    AerikanAerikan Game Design Manager Wellington NZRegistered User regular
    We had a wonderful meeting with Robert about this yesterday and he had such good things to say about the convention center, the city, and the passionate, friendly people here. All of us artists, educators, business owners (and yes, gamers and game devs) in SA are enthusiastic about the convention and are going to promote it, support it, and represent at it as hard as we can!

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    ahstoddardahstoddard President-kidnapping Ninja Houston-ishRegistered User regular
    I would also add the density of hotel rooms and walkability of the area.
    I haven't been to the main convention center in Dallas in forever, so can't speak to that one, but I am fairly sure the convention center in Houston is larger than San Antonio, but at the time of the first PAX South, only had one hotel within 3 blocks, and not a great amount beyond that.

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    DeJarnacDeJarnac Registered User regular
    edited February 2016
    Quoth Robert Khoo from this article, when he talked about why PAX is still in Seattle despite demand outstripping supply:

    "There are only a handful of convention centers on the west coast that could handle PAX. And it’s not just size you need to consider: think about hotel inventory, calendar availability, conflicting city events, etc."

    Your pros and cons are almost all tertiary considerations at best, and probably don't factor in the decision at all. I would wager that San Antonio was chosen almost entirely because it is a medium-sized city with an oversized convention center and tons of hotel rooms around it. That means space is cheap and easy. PAX South only filled up about half of that convention center. Some cities have convention centers which are just as big but which serve larger cities, so they'd be in higher demand.

    Other factors would include its distance from PAX prime and PAX east (it's fairly central) and its general accessibility. They may have also taken a look at the nearby game and tech industry, but once the convention grows, those people will travel.

    As for San Antonio's culture, gamer population, nightlife, tourist industry, etc, I think those were probably irrelevant to the decision.

    DeJarnac on
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    OpSteelOpSteel neighbor of the village pindiot Fort Worth TEXASRegistered User regular
    Although I think the Dallas convention center could easily handle PAX's size, Have you ever walked around outside of it? There is nothing right by it except a run down McDonalds and the Greyhound bus station. Downtown Dallas is dead on the weekends and after 5:00. As a DFW resident, I think SA is the best place in the state to hold it.

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    orthancstoneorthancstone TexasRegistered User regular
    To be fair, there's a light rail station right under Kay Bailey, which means it's easy to get the hell out of there fast. 8-)

    (Which is good, because downtown Dallas sucks.)

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    AerikanAerikan Game Design Manager Wellington NZRegistered User regular
    DeJarnac wrote: »

    As for San Antonio's culture, gamer population, nightlife, tourist industry, etc, I think those were probably irrelevant to the decision.

    While I am sure the practical needs of sustaining it were first, this is absolutely not true based on our discussion with Robert. He took the time to meet with cultural institutions from the city and repeated his love for the place, people, and culture. I believe he was genuine and take him at his word. People can believe what they want but I will assure everyone those of us here in the city will continue to work with him and PAX to make it as good as possible for everyone.

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    japesterjapester Registered User regular
    DeJarnac wrote: »
    Your pros and cons are almost all tertiary considerations at best, and probably don't factor in the decision at all. I would wager that San Antonio was chosen almost entirely because it is a medium-sized city with an oversized convention center and tons of hotel rooms around it. That means space is cheap and easy. PAX South only filled up about half of that convention center. Some cities have convention centers which are just as big but which serve larger cities, so they'd be in higher demand.

    I think it's a combination of this and what Aerikan is stating. They are not mutually exclusive. I have been watching the geek con scene very carefully in San Antonio for a number of years. It was virtually nonexistent until about 5 years ago. But an anime con drew huge numbers, and that made national promoters take notice. Then we got a comic con, and it also drew enormous numbers. Suddenly Wizard World gave us a test shot (and then left) and then PAX settled here. San Antonio is unaccustomed to these events and therefore treats them all as very special (hence all the goodwill and small-town friendliness that Robert is fond of--we are not a jaded city.....yet) and at the same time the rates are (I assume) very reasonable for facilities as demand isn't all that high. Yes, there are "better" facilities elsewhere (size/experience/airport convenience/etc) but all the other big cons know this, too, and are already taking advantage of them. San Antonio is still a diamond in the rough. And it has been fascinating and exciting to see entities like PAX take notice.

    I daresay PAX is also the biggest entity taking advantage of the convention center which puts them in the unique position of having a lot of influence in how it chooses to grow and develop. The major expansion and renovation happening at the same time the initial PAX contract was being discussed probably wasn't a coincidence. 8-)

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    DeJarnacDeJarnac Registered User regular
    Aerikan wrote: »
    DeJarnac wrote: »

    As for San Antonio's culture, gamer population, nightlife, tourist industry, etc, I think those were probably irrelevant to the decision.

    While I am sure the practical needs of sustaining it were first, this is absolutely not true based on our discussion with Robert. He took the time to meet with cultural institutions from the city and repeated his love for the place, people, and culture. I believe he was genuine and take him at his word. People can believe what they want but I will assure everyone those of us here in the city will continue to work with him and PAX to make it as good as possible for everyone.

    Fair enough. Do you get the sense that he was meeting with you to assess the state of the game industry in the area?

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    AerikanAerikan Game Design Manager Wellington NZRegistered User regular
    Nice writeup japester, think that covers it well.

    And DeJarnac, no, the stated purpose when I invited was how we can better as a city promote the con and how the con can better connect to the city. And he wonderfully assured us that he was more interested in how he could help us, make it more accessible to students and underprivileged, give San Antonio industry folks more stage and floor and panel space, and do some more coordinated events to really make it a special thing here.

    The city is changing and this con came at a perfect time to promote the growth in art, tech, startup scene, millennial population, and geekery. We definitely hope to grow the industry in this area but that's just a part of the overall growth.

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    japesterjapester Registered User regular
    That sounds great, Aerikan. I would have liked to sit in on that discussion. Robert is always interesting to talk to.

    Hopefully now that PAX has had two solid showings here, local business will take more notice (whether that means startups and game companies participating or the local restaurants realizing they need to staff more robustly that weekend!). :)

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    AiouaAioua Ora Occidens Ora OptimaRegistered User regular
    japester wrote: »
    That sounds great, Aerikan. I would have liked to sit in on that discussion. Robert is always interesting to talk to.

    Hopefully now that PAX has had two solid showings here, local business will take more notice (whether that means startups and game companies participating or the local restaurants realizing they need to staff more robustly that weekend!). :)

    Also robust inventory.

    Whattaburger ran out of buns saturday night :rotate:

    life's a game that you're bound to lose / like using a hammer to pound in screws
    fuck up once and you break your thumb / if you're happy at all then you're god damn dumb
    that's right we're on a fucked up cruise / God is dead but at least we have booze
    bad things happen, no one knows why / the sun burns out and everyone dies
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    ASimPersonASimPerson Cold... and hard.Registered User regular
    Speaking of the convention center, here's a look a the space PAX will be using next year: http://www.sahbgcc.com/Facilities/ConventionCenter/Floorplans.aspx#173601840-street-level

    Exhibit halls 3, 4a, and 4b were the Expo Hall this year. Exhibit halls 1 and 2 were just completed and will be in place for PAX next year. The area were tabletop and the queue room were this year (and that PAX didn't really even use last year) is going to be demolished. The new area is larger than the old area.

    But let's crunch some numbers. This center is about to add 270,590 square feet. Added to the existing space, this is 497,316 square feet of space that can be used for essentially anything. I haven't measured this amount versus East or Australia, but they're adding a space larger than the combined space of all of Prime's West's Expo Hall combined (which is 241,876 square feet if you include the 4th and 6th floors).

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    caninefangcaninefang Registered User new member
    edited February 2016
    ASimPerson wrote: »
    Speaking of the convention center, here's a look a the space PAX will be using next year: http://www.sahbgcc.com/Facilities/ConventionCenter/Floorplans.aspx#173601840-street-level

    Exhibit halls 3, 4a, and 4b were the Expo Hall this year. Exhibit halls 1 and 2 were just completed and will be in place for PAX next year. The area were tabletop and the queue room were this year (and that PAX didn't really even use last year) is going to be demolished. The new area is larger than the old area.

    But let's crunch some numbers. This center is about to add 270,590 square feet. Added to the existing space, this is 497,316 square feet of space that can be used for essentially anything. I haven't measured this amount versus East or Australia, but they're adding a space larger than the combined space of all of Prime's West's Expo Hall combined (which is 241,876 square feet if you include the 4th and 6th floors).

    i think your math is off but then again i could be wrong but any ways... the new wing is almost about 3-4 football fields long (i dont know if its NFL football fields or highschool football fields) but considering that its that huge most cons wont have that much of a problem fitting into the convention center . hell... if comic con wanted to move from their location we can or might be able to handle all or most of the people who attend. i mean think about it. and on top of that look at how many hotels we have around the convention center. within maybe a mile to 2 miles.

    caninefang on
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    BekerBeker Child's Play Program Director SeattleRegistered User, Penny Arcade Staff regular
    Keep in mind, queue room and Tabletop will likely be taking up a part of that large space next year so its not all going to be Expo Hall. PAX is always a jostle for space, not just finding a space that will fit, but how will that room in that space fit in the overall flow of PAX at various hours of the day. Lots of considerations to be made.

    For instance TT last year was past Expo hall, plenty of room for it there, not sure it ever filled up. But inconvenient to get to and possibly overlooked by some people. As opposed to this year, roughly same amount of space, but right in the thick of it and almost always full.

    Rest assured that the organizers have done over 20 of these now and will be thinking about how best to use all of the new space for the benefit of all of PAX. I for one am excited to see how it turns out.

    -Beker/Erick
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    japesterjapester Registered User regular
    Aioua wrote: »
    Also robust inventory.

    Whattaburger ran out of buns saturday night :rotate:

    Oof. They weren't the only ones. Friends of mine went out for ice cream Saturday night and said the poor shop owner was exhausted. He was out of everything (cones, most flavors) and had to keep telling people the few thing he had left. This is in a standalone shop that sold nothing but ice cream! LOL.

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    SkelefishSkelefish Registered User regular
    Very impressive gents and ladies. I had no idea this thread would keep going this long. :) I appreciate all the official and speculative discussion. I had no ill intent when I started this, but I've learned quite a bit in here, Special thanks go to @japester @Beker @Aerikan

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    zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
    Yeah, I had wondered why San Antonio when I first heard about PAX South back in 2014, but after two events there, I really get it, even if I can't put that "getting it" into sufficient words.

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    LynbmwLynbmw Registered User regular
    I would definitely love it if it were in Austin but that's where people would complain about how small it is and housing PAX could be another issue. I like how food is everywhere. I Need SA, the food has been mediocre and you have to drive to get something decent or walk a distance and even then, I found many places closed too early for those of us staying at PAX late. Still, the hotel convenience is great, relaxing by the Riverwalk is nice if it's not too cold that year, and the history is rich in the area where you can walk around and read plaques for a small break.

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    RenfamousRenfamous Weeb, Unexceptional Cosplayer Houston, TexasRegistered User regular
    edited November 2016
    I attend 10-12 cons a year, almost exclusively in Texas, and I can tell you that without exception the best conventions are in San Antonio. Austin is too small, Houston is too expensive and Dallas is a toilet city made of traffic jams.
    • South couldn't fill the KBH convention center in Dallas and nobody wants to go to Irving or Ft. Worth. The best conventions in Dallas are in the centrally located fancy hotels (Akon before they left the Anatole), but PAX is way too big for that.
    • Austin's convention center is in a fantastic location but it has a capacity of roughly 15 people
    • The George RR Brown convention center in Houston is nice, but South would optimistically take up about 2/5 of the convention center (850k square feet of exhibition hall). It's also perpetually surrounded by construction and in a part of town that can get rough at night. All of that plus the hotel prices in downtown Houston make it a bad choice. Houston's only other option would be NRG Center which has no food in walking distance unless you plan on eating asbestos out of the crumbling Astrodome next door.

    The HBG was far and away the best choice and as a Houston resident I can say I hope PAX stays in SA for 100 years.

    Renfamous on
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    TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    Renfamous wrote: »
    Dallas is a toilet city
    Hey!
    made of traffic jams.
    Okay, fair enough.

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    macrogeekmacrogeek Registered User regular
    Convention center size with room to grow in the future.
    PAX tries to always be in cities with a cool vibe, places that are walkable or have good mass transit.

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    claxtonj08claxtonj08 Registered User new member
    Skelefish wrote: »
    I know it's 2 years late, but I'm legitimately curious why PA chose San Antonio. I'm not here to start any form of a war or in any way slight the city of San Antonio. I love the city, have thoroughly enjoyed the past 2 years at PAX, and have next to nothing bad to say about it in my 30+ years. I bring this up merely as a conversation starter and a continuum from my hefty 5+ hour drive home thru Dallas where some friends and I weighed some possibilities. Anyone caring to chime in is welcome to:

    Pro-SA
    Geographically central-ish Texas
    Approx an hour from Austin, TX (SXSW, numerous game developers and a very notable indie atmosphere, additional international airport from SA)
    Has a versatile night life and recognized district(s) with many different venues and options to cater to (DFW has this as well, but much further spread out and not necessarily in a single area, save maybe Deep Ellum?)
    San Antonio is relatively under-utilized as a con-hub (ergo dates available, prices, etc may have worked in their favor) as such this also gives PA the chance of helping 'shape' the communities as they grow
    "Historical" recognition: Alamo, numerous Spanish missions, etc

    Con-SA
    Considered South Texas by state residents (DFW is usually referred to as the central Texas city as so many state and federal highways intersect nearby)
    The DFW area has 2 major airports and numerous smaller fields along with freight lines and even train hubs (unsure about SA in this)
    DFW has a long history of convention hosting and established organizations that support the communities.
    "Historical" recognition: Dealey Plaza, Ft. Worth Stockyards, etc.

    I agree, also that convention center (San Antonio) still has a massive lawsuit going on because one of their escalators collapsed and hurt quite a number of people not too long ago. I think it was 2012? With PAX South only growing, I'm surprised they would take a risk on a venue like that.

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    RenfamousRenfamous Weeb, Unexceptional Cosplayer Houston, TexasRegistered User regular
    claxtonj08 wrote: »
    I agree, also that convention center (San Antonio) still has a massive lawsuit going on because one of their escalators collapsed and hurt quite a number of people not too long ago. I think it was 2012? With PAX South only growing, I'm surprised they would take a risk on a venue like that.

    The escalator thing was in 2013 and it was "mostly minor injuries" incurred when an escalator in Hall D malfunctioned and suddenly changed directions, dumping everyone on the escalator to the bottom platform. Nothing collapsed--unless you mean Hall D itself, which was totally gutted and renovated this year.

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    SingsalotSingsalot Registered User regular
    Skelefish wrote: »
    DFW is usually referred to as the central Texas city

    Maybe Dallas residents do. Speaking as a Houstonian, Austin is the central city (it's why it's the capital and not Houston).

    And San Antonio is a great choice. You can get around (via car or bus) better than in Austin, Houston, or Dallas, and it's gotta be cheaper for both convention and attendees. Has all the standard stuff you need close by, plus the whole riverwalk situation, the area around the HBGCC is way better than other downtowns.

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    HTownMastodonHTownMastodon Registered User regular
    Singsalot wrote: »
    Skelefish wrote: »
    DFW is usually referred to as the central Texas city

    Maybe Dallas residents do. Speaking as a Houstonian, Austin is the central city (it's why it's the capital and not Houston).

    And San Antonio is a great choice. You can get around (via car or bus) better than in Austin, Houston, or Dallas, and it's gotta be cheaper for both convention and attendees. Has all the standard stuff you need close by, plus the whole riverwalk situation, the area around the HBGCC is way better than other downtowns.

    Agreed as a Houston native, George R. Brown and Downtown in general is just a massive headache getting around.

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    TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    Singsalot wrote: »
    Skelefish wrote: »
    DFW is usually referred to as the central Texas city

    Maybe Dallas residents do. Speaking as a Houstonian, Austin is the central city (it's why it's the capital and not Houston).

    And San Antonio is a great choice. You can get around (via car or bus) better than in Austin, Houston, or Dallas, and it's gotta be cheaper for both convention and attendees. Has all the standard stuff you need close by, plus the whole riverwalk situation, the area around the HBGCC is way better than other downtowns.

    Agreed as a Houston native, George R. Brown and Downtown in general is just a massive headache getting around.

    As a guy who grew up in Dallas and has been to 4 AKons there across about 15 years, San Antonio is great.

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    Christopher HuffChristopher Huff Registered User regular
    The only benefit I would get had it been in DFW would be that I wouldn't need a hotel. But I reallyyyyy hate being downtown up here in general. One time on my way to work the construction crews closed a vital exit (A few hours ahead of the announced closing) I take to get onto another highway and I was forced to go through downtown. Stoplights every 200 feet and even if there are green lights the traffic still doesn't move because all it takes is a group of travelers going to one particular spot for a lot of the lanes to get backed up real bad. Stressed me out a whole lot that day but I made it with literally 0 "grace minutes" left so I didn't get penalized for showing up late. As many of ya'll have said, its all the little stuff that adds up which makes San Antonio a great place in my opinion for it to be. The most negative thing I can come up with is that free parking doesn't exist, but hey, you can't find that in any major city.

    I'm actually debating on whether or not to route my trip going through Austin via I-35 or just take US 281 straight to San Antonio from the start which adds about half an hour to my commute. (Supposedly only adds 6 miles, but I imagine the speed limits must be lower and/or there's less lanes in-case you get stuck behind some slow 18 wheeler and can't pass for a while safely). I don't know how bad traffic in downtown Austin can get. Unless I need to get gas, I don't really plan on getting off the highway. But you never know, so I could use all the valuable Intel I can get. :)

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    ahstoddardahstoddard President-kidnapping Ninja Houston-ishRegistered User regular
    Singsalot wrote: »
    Skelefish wrote: »
    DFW is usually referred to as the central Texas city

    Maybe Dallas residents do. Speaking as a Houstonian, Austin is the central city (it's why it's the capital and not Houston).

    And San Antonio is a great choice. You can get around (via car or bus) better than in Austin, Houston, or Dallas, and it's gotta be cheaper for both convention and attendees. Has all the standard stuff you need close by, plus the whole riverwalk situation, the area around the HBGCC is way better than other downtowns.

    Agreed as a Houston native, George R. Brown and Downtown in general is just a massive headache getting around.

    I would think the bulk of people would be coming from outside the host city and once you get to the event, you tend to stick around. The George R Brown is pretty easy to get to from just about any outside direction with the proximity to 59.
    By the time the next South rolls around, all the Houston improvements will be done, which would make for a nice host area with the connected hotels, but I'd take the San Antonio main theater over what the GRB has in place, especially for the concerts. It is also just nice to get away for a bit. :)

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    orthancstoneorthancstone TexasRegistered User regular
    take US 281 straight to San Antonio from the start which adds about half an hour to my commute

    It's a much more relaxing and scenic drive. Does suck when you enter SA proper and end up hitting some of the worse areas for traffic, but it's much better than 35 if you don't mind it taking longer.

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    HTownMastodonHTownMastodon Registered User regular
    ahstoddard wrote: »
    Singsalot wrote: »
    Skelefish wrote: »
    DFW is usually referred to as the central Texas city

    Maybe Dallas residents do. Speaking as a Houstonian, Austin is the central city (it's why it's the capital and not Houston).

    And San Antonio is a great choice. You can get around (via car or bus) better than in Austin, Houston, or Dallas, and it's gotta be cheaper for both convention and attendees. Has all the standard stuff you need close by, plus the whole riverwalk situation, the area around the HBGCC is way better than other downtowns.

    Agreed as a Houston native, George R. Brown and Downtown in general is just a massive headache getting around.

    I would think the bulk of people would be coming from outside the host city and once you get to the event, you tend to stick around. The George R Brown is pretty easy to get to from just about any outside direction with the proximity to 59.
    By the time the next South rolls around, all the Houston improvements will be done, which would make for a nice host area with the connected hotels, but I'd take the San Antonio main theater over what the GRB has in place, especially for the concerts. It is also just nice to get away for a bit. :)

    It might just be me, but if PAX South comes to Houston in the future, I'll really just need a secure parking garage near the convention hall to be fine, since my house is stroll down 45 to the Beltway away. But yeah San Antonio is great for just getting away from work and the negative mood in general

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    Animal-_-Animal-_- Registered User regular
    edited January 2017
    I'm actually debating on whether or not to route my trip going through Austin via I-35 or just take US 281 straight to San Antonio from the start which adds about half an hour to my commute. (Supposedly only adds 6 miles, but I imagine the speed limits must be lower and/or there's less lanes in-case you get stuck behind some slow 18 wheeler and can't pass for a while safely). I don't know how bad traffic in downtown Austin can get. Unless I need to get gas, I don't really plan on getting off the highway. But you never know, so I could use all the valuable Intel I can get. :)

    Going through Austin on 35 can be a giant pain depending on the time of the day. I'd go 281 just for the reduced stress.

    Animal-_- on
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    AerikanAerikan Game Design Manager Wellington NZRegistered User regular
    Hey all, I am super happy to give San Antonio recommendations if anyone new to/not sold on the city wants. Food, drink, fun, groups, events, etc. Feel free to message me here or stop by the San Antonio Game Devs booth to ask questions! We have a whole indie megabooth kind of deal of local companies who would be happy to spread the good word.

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