Authorities Unexpectedly Greenlight Florida Con; Elsewhere Cancellations Mount

With at least 200 comic, sff and pop culture conventions having cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA’s report today that “Tampa Bay Comic Con gets green light to go on in July” was an unexpected piece of news.

Tampa Bay Comic Con has received the green light to go on as planned in July, after months of uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tampa Bay Comic Con will be held from July 10-12.

In a post to their Facebook page on Tuesday, Tampa Bay Comic Con confirmed it has received confirmation from the Tampa Convention Center and Tampa Fire Marshal that TBCC 2020 will move forward with numerous health measures to keep everyone safe.

Those measures include:

  • Mandatory temperature screenings for all occupants prior to entering the convention center
  • Increased cleaning and disinfection procedures in high-traffic areas of the convention center
  • Hand santizing stations through the pre-function space and high traffic areas
  • Interior occupancy of the exhibit hall, ballrooms and meeting rooms will be strictly limited, with one-way entrances and one-way exits of all interior spaces

Nevertheless, the trend for now is strong in the other direction, as cancellation announcements continue to mount.

Major gaming convention Gen-Con cancelled on May 19. The event was to be held in Indianapolis, IN on July 30-August 12. Peter Adkison, the event’s co-owner and chairman of the board, began his statement —

This decision will not be surprising to many of you, but due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, we announced today that we are canceling Gen Con 2020 in Indianapolis and planning an online event in its place.

This will be the first time in the 50+ year history of Gen Con that we will miss the chance to see each other in person, and it hurts, but nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our attendees and the communities they hail from….

Others that went public with a decision this week include events in Mississippi, South Carolina and Missouri.

“2020 Mississippi Comic Con canceled due to COVID-19” was announced May 18.

“Because of the uncertainty surrounding the current state order and the overall lack of certainty surrounding the safety of our patrons, guests, vendors, and staff for Mississippi Comic Con, we are forced to cancel our 2020 event. After speaking extensively with the management at the Trade Mart, and advisement from the Mississippi State Department of Health, we have rescheduled Mississippi Comic Con for June 26-27, 2021. We are in the process of trying to re-book some of this year’s guests for those dates but nothing is certain at this time,” said AVC Conventions co-owner Greg Hanks.

The announcement that South Carolina’s “Soda City Comic Con canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic” also was made May 18.

On Monday, officials announced the cancellation of this year’s Soda City Comic Con.

The popular event, which has been held since 2015, was set to take place at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on August 22-23.

“Given the current environment and with a heavy heart, we have decided to cancel the 2020 Soda City Comic Con,” event officials wrote in a message posted on the Soda City Comic Con Facebook page. “We do not take this decision lightly, as many hours have been dedicated to planning the 2020 event.”

In Missouri, reports that a “St. Louis comic con event postponed” went public on May 15.

Wizard Entertainment Inc. has postponed its Wizard World St. Louis convention, originally set for June 5-7 at America’s Center. The event will now take place March 12-14, 2021.

Wizard World is a convention for fans of multiple genres, including science fiction and fantasy, comic books, movies and digital media. Fans who purchased general admission or VIP tickets for the original dates may use those same tickets for the rescheduled event, officials said.

The US/Canada Convention Status Sheet (Google docs) tracks almost 300 comic, sff and pop culture cons. Nearly 200 events on their list have already cancelled or postponed. All the events through June (with a single exception) have been shuttered. For the next three months beyond that, the number of events that have yet to be called off amount to 17 in July (vs. 13 cancelled), 15 in August (vs. 5 cancelled), and 18 in September (only 1 cancelled).

The lone September cancellation so far is Rose City Comic Con in Portland, OR, which decided a few days ago:

As a consequence of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Rose City Comic Con, originally scheduled to take place on September 11-13, 2020, will now be held at the Oregon Convention Center, Portland on September 10-12, 2021.   

23 thoughts on “Authorities Unexpectedly Greenlight Florida Con; Elsewhere Cancellations Mount

  1. Hampus Eckerman on May 19, 2020 at 11:55 pm said:

    If I see anyone using Sweden as an excuse, I will scream.

    Biblical apocalypse*: The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

    2020 apocalypse: And verily will the right wing American conservative praise the Nordic nation even unto saying ‘we should do as they are doing but not the healthcare bit and the taxes’. And was everybody else was sorely vexed because that made no fricking sense not even unto a little bit.

  2. I wonder what kind of turnout they will get. Seems like the exhibitors may be stuck paying for the table whether they show up or not.

  3. And then there’s this idiocy. ?

    Seriously what is it with American Evangelicals. It’s written in their sacred text: And Jesus said “is it not written, do not put your God to the test”

    You would not catch me going to any con in the US or the UK for the next six months.

  4. I expect that the convention has little choice because Florida’s government is opening up the state; without force majeure to cancel their contracts, the cancellation penalties would be horrendous and would likely bankrupt the convention. I don’t imagine that anyone on the Tampa Bay concom* is enthusiastic about this decision; purely from an economic standpoint their attendance will probably be so low as to also run the risk of bankrupting the convention.

    And that’s leaving aside the obvious moral problem of how to make the con as safe as possible for attendees, which I’d very much like to believe is also a consideration, even for for-profit conventions. (I know that the health and safety of the members is an overriding consideration for the non-profit fan-run conventions I’m associated with, at least.)

    The novella San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant comes to mind every time I see news of an in-person convention these days. sigh

    *Do comic cons have “concoms” or are they called something else? I’ve never worked for a for-profit convention and I don’t know the terminology)

  5. Creation Entertainment is still pretending that Star Trek Las Vegas will happen at the beginning of August.

  6. @Cassy B–I’m sure the convention has little choice in the matter, due to Florida’s boneheaded decisions. But it is all too likely to be a super spreader event, as JJ says.

  7. Large gatherings are banned in Oregon through the end of September, which is why Rose City Comic Con has already been canceled.

    I fully expect there won’t be an OryCon (November) here in Portland this year, but we have to try to plan for things in case we are able to put it on. I’m the treasurer this year–we haven’t seen more than a half-dozen memberships come in since February, so it looks like the attendees are expecting it to be canceled, also.

  8. @John Lorentz, many conventions are in an uncomfortable holding pattern. <nod> They CANNOT announce that the convention is cancelled before they can invoke a force majeure clause, or the contract penalties will almost certainly force the convention to close permanently. Yet both fans and conrunners know that the odds of a successful convention happening before, oh, I dunno, at best probably January (and that’s only if the best-possible-case scenario works out for vaccines) is slim to none.

    I’ll be watching with grieved interest (as one watches a train wreck) to see how many attendees Tampa Bay Comic Con actually gets, and whether they incur legal liability for any virus spread. I don’t think that latter point has been tested in courts yet….

    I personally am going with a sort of modified Waffle House Index* that I’m calling the Disney Park Index** which states that until Disney (and other major theme parks such as Six Flags) open in a region, it is not safe to hold an SF convention in that region. (This is a bare minimum requirement; the converse, that if the theme parks are open it is safe, is not intended or implied.) Please note that I just checked Disney’s home page and they do not list a date for re-opening the park in Florida.

    *Waffle House is a chain of 24-hour diners, mostly in the southern part of the US, that FEMA uses as an informal gauge of how bad an emergency situation such as hurricanes or flooding actually is. LINK

    **I don’t claim to have invented the idea; I’ve seen this point made elseweb.

  9. wrt @JJ’s first link: I wonder how long it will take De Santis to dis Jones as a “disgruntled employee”. wrt the 2nd link and @NickPheas’s response: maybe the school considered this to be the equivalent of snake handling, for which IIRC there is a justifying line somewhere in the epistles? That doesn’t excuse them — ISTM it would be a ridiculous stretch even if I had patience with religion in general — but there’s a stratum that is very good at picking and choosing which parts of Scripture it attends to.

    @Hampus Eckerman: ISTR a story about some Swedish city using flaming manure to discourage people from actually gathering in quantity; perhaps that’s an adequate response to misused cites? I’ve been tempted to answer with such to the few Trumpidiots who comment on my state senator’s blog, but I only have so much stomach lining to give (and yes, I know ulcers are now considered not to come from plain stress).

  10. Futuricon, the 2020 Eurocon in Rijeka, Croatia, in October is still officially going ahead and they’re still selling memberships, too. And since Croatia fared pretty well so far and is planning to reopen the hotels and beaches for the summer holiday season, it might actually happen. It all depends on how the situation develops in the next two or three months.

    Most of the German cons seem to have been cancelled or postponed until next year. There is one con in my region in October, which is currently in a “wait and see” holding pattern, though they have stopped selling memberships for now. That one might be able to go ahead, too, because the specific area has had very few cases so far.

    If that con happens, I will probably go, because I can drive there, which is a lot safer than flying. Besides, knowing how the German authorities operate, if it’s even remotely unsafe, the con won’t happen anyway.

    And while I have a lot of sympathy for the organisers of Tampa Bay Comic Con and the bad situation they’re stuck in, holding that con in July in a place as badly affected as Florida strikes me as a very bad idea.

  11. My usual cons are all in Arizona, one state over from where I live (because it is entirely possible that I am my state’s filk scene). Leprecon last month got force majeured (forced majeure?), but Cokocon in September and Tuscon in November are still on, albeit in keep-watching-the-skies mode. I drive rather than fly, and hotel reservations are not hard to cancel, so I don’t need to make any predictions right now.

  12. It appears that the answer to my question is “7 hours”, more or less; NPR reports that De Santis claims she was insubordinate, put up bad data (although even the White House’s official health kissup, Deborah Birx, was praising the site) and said she was tired and needed a break. The tired is understandable given the reports of long extra hours she put in on the site; a break usually doesn’t involve firing. He’s also brought up a (current?) stalking charge dating back to her college time and asking ~”how someone could be charged with that and allowed to continue”; no report of whether he was asked why Trump was allowed to continue after being charged with ~treason.

    @Soon Lee: that was a neat story; IIRC it showed up here last month.

  13. Chip Hitchcock: It appears that the answer to my question is “7 hours”, more or less; NPR reports that De Santis claims she was insubordinate, put up bad data (although even the White House’s official health kissup, Deborah Birx, was praising the site) and said she was tired and needed a break. The tired is understandable given the reports of long extra hours she put in on the site; a break usually doesn’t involve firing.

    Yeah, funny how the firing came immediately after the Spanish-language version of the dashboard went live. 🙄

    I notice that he’s tried to smear her reputation, but doesn’t say anything about the tens of thousands of dollars she’s still owed by the State of Florida for her work. The depths to which these corrupt politicians are willing to sink never ceases to amaze me. 😐

  14. The issue with waiting for force majeure is very real. Westercons 73 and 74 were pretty much ready to postpone for a year in late March (the committees, parent non-profit corporations, Westercon service mark holder, and Tonopah’s facilities were all okay with the “Westercon Two-Step” plan), but 73 couldn’t shift until the Doubletree SeaTac agreed that it was impossible for them to host 73 as originally scheduled. Seattle and Tonopah were simply marking time for two months waiting for the decision.

  15. Pingback: Google Page Shows Extent of Convention Postponements/Cancellations - Amazing Stories

  16. @Chip Hitchcock

    He’s also brought up a (current?) stalking charge dating back to her college time

    The stalking charge is current, filed 7/17/2019. Reading the case documents (arresting officer affidavits, etc) on the Leon County FL website do not paint a flattering picture of her, and tend to validate De Santis’s statements about her. She also has a number of other Nolle Prossed and closed criminal charges against her in Florida, and charges in Louisiana from 2016 (resisting arrest, battery on a cop, failure to leave).

  17. @bill: closed unrelated charges do not substantiate claims of inaccurate data. They just don’t. And it’s awfully convenient how these show up now, when De Santis is trying to claim she’s lying, but weren’t an issue when she was hired. Further, given the sexism still seen among some policemen and some male software engineers, I have my doubts about all of those charges; ISTM that in some jurisdictions there is an overlap between (e.g.) resisting-arrest-while-female and refusing-to-fit-a-male-idea-of-how-a-female-should-behave.

  18. @chip —

    closed unrelated charges do not substantiate claims of inaccurate data

    Neither you nor I have the actual data in question, so we can’t know what happened. You seem to believe her; I looked at her record which does not show her to be reliable.
    Her own writings tell time after time how she lied time after time to her supervisors, her administration, and the university investigators about her sexual relationship with her student, and she lied to the police who were investigating the charges against her. There is no reason to take her account at face value.

    Her relationship with her student as she describes it meets any definition of sexual harassment; if the relationship were one of coworkers instead of teacher-student, it would open up the employer to a big sexual harassment suit. When De Santis said “she didn’t listen to the people who were her superiors . . . And so she was dismissed because of that”; he is describing exactly what happened at FSU.

    And it’s awfully convenient how these show up now,

    What do you mean, “show up now”? Do you have some evidence that these aren’t routine court records that haven’t been available for months/years?

    but weren’t an issue when she was hired.

    The fact that the Health Dept may not have done due diligence when she was hired doesn’t give her a pass.

    I have my doubts about all of those charges

    If you will read the investigating officer’s account of how he found online links to the document that she wrote that showed naked pictures of the student, and how she sent it to the student’s family and employer, you will see that the active stalking charge is justified.
    If you read her own account of the relationship, you will see that (even though the court dropped them) the charges of Contempt of Court for violating the Do-Not-Contact order and the charge of trespassing on the FSU campus are completely justified.

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