[Jeff Orth tells how he, Diane Lacey and Ruth Lichtwardt caught the vision for a KC in 2016 Worldcon bid.]
By Jeff Orth: We have worked as a team for several projects since forming for the Anticipation Hugo Administration. Diane was the Consuite Department head for Anticipation and Ruth and I helped her where we could, both in recruiting staff and taking shifts as needed. It was one of the best consuites I have ever seen. Not that I am at all unbiased. We also recently worked on-site con registration for the Raleigh NASFIC.
We all worked on ConQuesT 2010, Ruth in Facilities and Diane and me in programming. It was this venue that spawned the idea of a Kansas City Worldcon. (Well that and somebody else trying to thrust $20 at me. And of course a Worldcon Bid not inspired by late night, drunken conversations would be just wrong. We can, and probably will, make up more stories as we go along.)
After Diane had headed off for Toronto to continue working on SFContario, Ruth and I approached Margene Bahm and asked her to look into facilities downtown. She happily agreed and contacted the Kansas City CVB (called VisitKC [visitkc.com]) Margene made arrangements to tour the hotels and convention center, Bartle Hall, with a representative from VisitKC named Becky. I unashamedly invited myself along. We spent a wonderful day in June touring some of the most wonderful hotels I have ever seen. I don’t recall if you were at the KC Smofcon at the Hotel Phillips. It was a great hotel and yet it was not the most impressive of the five we saw. The Hilton President and the Holiday Inn Aladdin, both within 2 blocks of the Convention Center, were at least equally impressive.
Bartle Hall is slightly too large for us, but not so large that any other event of any size could occupy the space we would not use. Becky referred to us several times as a “City Wide” meaning that we would
consume all of the available Hotel Space downtown, thus again precluding any other group from utilizing that space. We would be a big deal in Kansas City, indeed.
We judge the existing hotel space to be more than adequate. If we need to resort to overflow hotels, (the Hyatt Crown Center, where ConQuesT is currently held) it would be a very successful Worldcon. The other two hotels, the Marriott Downtown (which incorporates the old Muehlbach) and the Crown Plaza Downtown are within a block of the convention center, as is the Holiday Inn Aladdin. The Hotel Phillips and the President are two blocks away.
I came away from the tour stunned and more excited about a Kansas City Worldcon than I had ever been. (Margene came away vowing to never take me anywhere, ever again. I think I behaved like a farm boy in the big city for the first time, which isn’t far from the truth.)
All of this is, of course, subject to the normal ebb and flow of negotiation. Numbers will be crunched and spreadsheets will be drawn up and disposed of. We expect to have facts for people to chew over
and not just the goshwow of a Kansas farmboy. And we do have lots of time to get our ducks lined up.
Which brings me to the non-announcement at NASFIC. We realize that it is too early to bid for a Worldcon in 2016. We believe that fandom has a limited amount of resources (as do we). But, we wanted to get the word out that we are very serious. We actually have fans excited here in the KC area and elsewhere. A bunch of them are likely to be in tow in San Jose in December. (And “in tow” is almost not an exaggeration. Some of them are worried about finals that week. Just where did all these kids come from? Don’t answer that, just keep ’em off my lawn.)
Our primary challenge here in KC for the next two years will be keeping the fire stoked. You can judge how well we have done when we start throwing parties for keepsies at Chicago in 2012. We might
sneak a few in here and there, just to keep our hand in, look to SFContario and Reno for example. We do like throwing parties, but, we won’t be actively soliciting pre-supports until our official announcement two years before the vote. Planning, organizing and having fun for now, and keeping an eye on the fannish landscape are our priorities. Oh, and looking for people all across that landscape who might like to join us in the craziness.
Regards, Jeff Orth — and for Diane Lacey, Ruth Lichtwardt