Strong warning to Robert and the rest of the PAX crew: Please scope out the entrance and predict pedestrian patterns. I don't know who designed the new layout, but it is terrible.
As a little background, I am a local. So I have attended dozens of events and cons at the Henry B Gonzalez Center. I get that it needed an upgrade, and while the inside may be an improvement, the entrance is a mess. My observations are based on Alamo City Comic Con, an event that drew over 70k people the last two years and may have topped 80k this year, so very comparable to PAX.
The entrance is beautiful. But if you stand at the entrance and look out, you see....a wall. Okay, it's more of a wrought-iron fence and embankment, but the result is the same. Foot traffic cannot cross the street. Looking to the right, you have the highway. It is right there. So lots of cars are heading that way, and almost no foot traffic is going to walk that way. Pretty much all of the hotels are to the left of the entrance. That means almost all your traffic is walking to the left, on a narrow sidewalk. Which would be bad enough, except you have to cross three
active driveways with their own walk/don't walk signs in a space of maybe 20 feet. And they are not coordinated. So you have hundreds of people at a time being chopped up into tiny groups on the sidewalk, waiting for the lights and dodging cars (which are entering and exiting the hotel via those 3 driveways). It was a real mess.
Luckily, ACCC had contracted for police to be there during some of the busiest times. They had to creatively direct traffic to keep everyone moving safely. Sometimes this meant blocking the 3 hotel driveways to allow pedestrians unobstructed access fora minute. Better still, some officers would simply block all four directions of traffic (there is also a regular intersection right there) and allow pedestrians to cross diagonally and go right into the big parking structure across the street from the old convention center.
If PAX somehow makes use of what is left of the old convention center, it will slightly ameliorate this. People exiting from the Lila Cockrell Theatre emerge on the far side of this mess and are greeted by a crosswalk straight across the street (to the hotel or parking garage) or unblocked sidewalk access to the left down the street towards the other hotels. But even though ACCC used the Theatre, not many people left the convention from that area. It's a long walk down a hallway (the full width of the hotel) to reach the Theatre from the main convention space, so it's a bit isolated. And I assume PAX will mostly be in the new space.
As an addendum, the panel rooms above the open lobby (the 221 and 225 blocks) also have serious routing issues when lots of people head towards them. Scouting them early and planning lines is vital, particularly for the rooms along the narrow side, reachable only via a small bridge. I suggest PAX avoids using these rooms except for staff or for events that will see very light attendance.
I hope this helps. The convention center is beautiful and has a cool Enterprise Next-Gen and Moss Eisley Cantina vibe to some of its rest areas. Plus, food options seem more plentiful and convenient (though I didn't purchase any myself). PAX is a lot more experienced and organized than the local event I intended, so I'm hoping they can sidestep these issues with some forethought.
Walking the space is good, but seeing it under load is even better. Hopefully they will be on top of things. ACCC is a local event, and they were caught by surprise by the layout and some of the challenges it posed. If I can provide any other answers, anyone on staff is free to contact me. I'm usually an exhibitor at these events, so I tend to view them with a more critical eye than most attendees even though I'm retired.
Based on what I've been told from people who went to Alamo Comic Con, this is the setup OP is referring to, entrance wise.
Cosplay Photography | Unofficial PAX South Fan Group (FB)
People staying in hotels on the Riverwalk or at the Marriott aren't even going to approach from the main entrance--they'll cross and enter at the Marriott or approach from River level which spits you out next to Cockrell. The only people who would get caught in this theoretical foot traffic jam would be people staying at the La Quinta or MAYBE anyone lucky enough to get into the Marina parking garage before it fills up at 8pm on Thursday.
I'm not terribly worried.
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Sorry, but observed data isn't "theoretical". Sounds like you didn't observe it since you chose a different route. Which is great. But it means you missed seeing the constant, daily logjam at the main entrance. Like I said, I'm usually an exhibitor, so I scope things out with a more critical eye than an attendee might. You can't assume everyone will make the same decisions as you. Because it rarely works out that way in practice. (The fact that 2-3 uniformed police were paid to stand on the sidewalk and in that one intersection throughout most of the con just to direct foot and vehicular traffic is also a good indicator that it was a major thoroughfare).
The map posted by UnimatrixZero spells it out fairly clearly. It's also worth mentioning that the people who did choose the very long hallway to the Lila Cockrell were routinely stopped to allow the lines heading into the theatre to pass by. Alamo City Comic Con was still using the large empty space by the escalators to line up people for upcoming theatre events, and when that line had to load it cut off the hallway, preventing people from entering or exiting that way while thousands of people shuffled by. This also led to some scuffling as people tried to sneak into the line entering the theater, so it had to be policed by a tight cordon of enforcers to keep things organized.
After attending so many PAXen, I have faith the staff will manage the crowd a little better than what I experienced.
Agreed. They are real pros. I'm curious since the Queue Hall seems to be the space by the escalators that I'm talking about, and it isn't that large. Maybe they'll open up the area behind it. It's hard to tell from the map. But there are doors to snake the line into a room behind that space.
Unfortunately, the main entrance on the con map is the area I've been talking about. So I guess we'll see what happens. If they instead funnel people into the doors by the Main Theatre (sending them down to the Queue Hall), they'll avoid all those traffic lights. If crowds head to that main entrance, where Registration and the Info Desk are, it will be a logjam in the streets again. And even using the theatre entrance means cutting off traffic for a good while each time the Main Theatre loads. I suggest nobody tries to exit or enter that way if they are running late for a panel or meetup.
Ahhh so you hired some British consultants?
I don't know if I trust British workmanship any more than our own.