Yesterday Otakon announced that they were moving to the DC convention center. If you haven’t read the news, here’s the Press release on this: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/press-release/2013-08-12/otakon-to-move-to-washington-dc-in-2017.
This will be a multi-focused looked at the possible impacts on this. This is a theoretical only piece and I am not speaking as any convention/festival staffer.
There is an emotional side to this. I am a Baltimorean and you must understand the Baltimore psyche a little bit. We’re an underdog city and a city that isn’t shown a ton of love. The world knows us for the Wire. Otakon is one of those things in the fannish community that people identify with Baltimore. It means a lot to the city and will miss the life it brings Baltimore. It is also an opportunity for DC fandom. Let me explain.
I think Otakon being in DC could directly and negatively affects the other local anime conventions (not MAGFest). I call this the San Diego affect. San Diego Comic Con brings a ton of people into the city. It also means that it’s the only convention most locals go to due to the very high cost of everything. That means events like Anime Conji (the specialized events) have to fight for the rest of fans money. That I can see as a possibility with Otakon due to it’s current size and other local cons like Awesome Con growing rapidly (7K for a first year show is really good).
A lot of fans think that DC is not safe. I deeply disagree. I have been in that part of DC and many other parts of DC (including near Nationals Park). The area around the convention center and Chinatown is a safe area of the city. DC has changed and grown over the past few years. Metro is a good option for those who are hotel price sensitive, also. You can find hotels in Crystal City or the MD Suburbs (like White Flint Mall area) that are half the price of the big hotels downtown.
The opportunity is for a DC area con to do one of two things. Move to Baltimore Convention Center and fill the hole in the hearts of Baltimore fans. You couldn’t be on the same weekend as Otakon. It would be a bold and not a cheap decision due to the exhibitor costs. If you grow the convention during those five years, you get the first crack opportunity to have all of a new building or the space to grow to 30K.
There are a couple of risks on this front. First of all, that Otakon moves back to Baltimore after the five years is up. Secondly, that you aren’t able to draw people to the new convention center. The option I would consider is a smaller con at the Hunt Valley Inn or Crowne Plaza, then you grow to the Convention Center. I think Baltimore/DC are two separate markets with local quirks and a smaller can could succeed with Otakon in BCC. Don't
expect me to think of a general con in the Baltimore market at this point in time. Kickstarter has a very uneven starting point on this.