New Zealand in 2020 Bid Changes Proposed Worldcon Dates

The New Zealand in 2020 Worldcon bid is announcing they have changed the dates of their potential 78th Worldcon to Wednesday, July 29 through Sunday, August 2, 2020 due to the unavailability of one of the main facilities.

Their proposed location is still in the same facilities in central Wellington, New Zealand. They include TSB Arena, Shed 6, the InterContinental Wellington and the Michael Fowler Centre. The date change will ensure that a New Zealand Worldcon will have “unfettered access” to the facilities and accommodation required to run a successful event, should the NZ in 2020 bid be awarded the convention.

The site selection vote will be held at the 2018 Worldcon in San José. New Zealand is running unopposed.

Long-time science fiction fan, Norman Cates is the chair of the NZ in 2020 Worldcon bid. He said in a press release:

We appreciate that this date change would make our Worldcon early compared to previous Worldcons. We did a lot of debating about this, and moving the date was the best overall option to preserve our best possible Worldcon.

The committee’s original dates were August 12-16, 2020. The new July 29 starting date will result in the earliest Worldcon since Torcon I ran July 3-5, 1948. On the other hand, the New Zealand Worldcon would be positioned to start only about a week sooner than Interaction, held August 4-8, 2005.

File 770 asked what happened to preempt NZ in 2020’s dates. Cates explained:

We had a meeting with WREDA (Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency, the group that deals with our facilities) and they told us that a long-running and much larger event swooped in and booked the TSB Arena from August 5th into October. This blocked out our dates.

We asked why this wasn’t known much earlier, and we were told that the event has a contract directly with the city, that over rides WREDA. This appears to have blindsided WREDA as well.

Bear in mind that until we can pay a deposit, they don’t really consider the facilities properly held. We had a memorandum from them agreeing to the dates.

We didn’t see much point in wailing and shouting at that point… It appears to be a case of a higher power over-riding.

So our best option was to shift dates, which our GOHs are fine with.

Losing facilities to an event able to sign a contract is an experience several U.S. bids also have suffered over the years.

Even though New Zealand is unopposed and in a position to consider paying a deposit to keep facilities available, Cates said the required amount was beyond their resources.

NZ in 2020 is offering “pre-supporting” memberships for NZ$30 and a variety of other types of pre-supporting memberships to help fund their Worldcon bid. Joining the bid helps pay for the cost of promoting the bid. Membership forms and additional information about the bid are available on the bid’s website, https://nzin2020.nz .

16 thoughts on “New Zealand in 2020 Bid Changes Proposed Worldcon Dates

  1. The revised 2020 Worldcon Site Selection Ballot is up on the Worldcon 76 Site Selection page. Ballots cast for New Zealand, even on the earlier ballot with the original dates, will count for the same bid. If someone who already voted wants to change their vote, they must contact site selection to arrange it. There will be a notice in PR 4 about this.

    Incidentally, the Utah in 2019 NASFiC bid also made changes, but not to their date or site. They revised their committee list. There’s a new 2019 NASFiC ballot online at the Worldcon 76 Site Selection page, too.

  2. Even though New Zealand is unopposed and in a position to consider paying a deposit to keep facilities available, Cates said the required amount was beyond their resources.

    I’m not sure why this is remarkable; I wouldn’t be surprised if the deposit were USD50,000 — somewhere around the total turnover for a contested bid, according to discussions I’ve been involved with — and possibly more. Not being contested may mean they don’t have to spend as much (although not making a big show could hurt membership and staff recruitment down the line), but it would also affect how much they can raise.

  3. Unf.

    Their facilities still look non-accessible to me, not that I can see much.

    I’ll have to go to the Fannish Inquisition for more info, but I haven’t heard good things about their plans either.

    Also, that’s midwinter in New Zealand. (Hemispheres are different!)

    A quick Google tells me sunrise isn’t till 7:32 AM (!) and sunset arrives at 5:23 PM. Weather on the average of 50 F/10 C, but feels colder thanks to humidity and clouds, wind, and rain.

    The city website itself says:

    Winter weather: June – August

    Average daily max: 11.5°C / 53°F min: 6.5°C/44°F

    Wellington’s winter tends to be wet rather than frosty, with around a 55% daily chance of rain through the winter months. So a Wellington winter wardrobe is more likely to be waterproof than woollen.

    I guess it’s good fen mostly stay inside then, but it’s not necessarily optimum touristing weather, and if I spent all the money to get there, I’d darn well make a big tourist outing from it. (It’s like Sacramento in January, which is… something I avoid, and a time when my friends from Sacto like to escape)

    Shame they couldn’t get the later, warmer/drier dates. I suppose it’ll be good weather for wearing your Fourth Doctor scarf.

    Predicting this is going to be a low-attendance con, which is good for a first-time committee/country. At least with a small number of people and all the facilities to spread out in, there shouldn’t be bottlenecks. I hope.

  4. I guess it’s good fen mostly stay inside then, but it’s not necessarily optimum touristing weather, and if I spent all the money to get there, I’d darn well make a big tourist outing from it.

    Except you can’t really avoid going outside since there are blocks of streets between the three venues.

    That said, it’s probably going to be in NZ so I hope WSFS members are clear on our expectations regarding accessibility and that NZ puts suitable plans in place.

  5. @Ultragotha: BLOCKS???

    Without any kind of transity shuttly things? I hope they’re scheduling plenty of time between panels, then (because what you want to see next is *always* the other side of the facilities, no matter how big or small they are and no matter what shape you’re in), not to mention places to hang up your wet weather gear and stow umbrellas that are out of the indoor pathways (o ghu… the slip-and-fall possibilities). How far are the hotels from the different facilities? Is there transit from them?

    I thought we were clear about our expectations regarding accessibility for Helsinki, but it didn’t matter. Once someone’s got the bid, they can tell everyone sorrynotsorry — particularly if they’ve already got a facility locked in. Too late, suckas.

    If the concom doesn’t plan to be transparent (like some) AND doesn’t have all these things detailed down to a pretty fine level with measurements, photos with easily-figured scales, and so forth (also like some), plus real plans about moving people into and out of big events, from one building to another, the morning/opening day rush, the party locations, traffic flow, the accessibility…

    …well, just as I’ve been using No Award more lately, I’m also willing to vote None of the Above too, even after having gone through the Westercon Business Meeting From Hell. *

    I also heard from a lot of people who had no skin in either bid that SJ won over New Orleans for this time because of their preparation at Fannish Inquisition (and bid parties), better facility, and more concrete explanations without vague handwaving and appeal to “Look! We’re in a really neat city! Isn’t that enough? Vote for us!”

    *Maybe because of it. And that was just for a regional con in the same country, time zone, and dates, so everyone was working off the same basic principles.

  6. I like going to WorldCon. I want to go to New Zealand. I am less and less confident that going to WorldCon _in_ New Zealand is going to be a rewarding use of my vacation time and funds.

    I really wish they’d used the need to change the date to move the con later (and into spring) not early (and deeper into winter).

  7. Date shift is into the worst part of Wellington winter. Very strong chance of wind and rain. I am a native Wellingtonian and don’t own an umbrella – the wind will whip the brolly away too fast. Wind speeds of 40-50 knots are not unusual and are considered merely “strong”.

    Proposed venues are about 5-10 minutes walk apart and are not physically connected to any hotels and there is no or very little rain cover between the venues i.e. if one is travelling from one venue to another in the rain be prepared to get wet (and buffeted by the wind).

  8. Shed 6 and the TSB Arena are on the same site. The Intercontinental looks to be about 100m away. The Michael Fowler (main events and one panel room) is about 300m away. All rough estimates based on google maps.

    Now that isn’t ideal – but it isn’t huge distances. It looks flat and there is a crossing over the busy road. I would encourage the NZ bid team to film themselves walking, and preferably someone in a mobility scooter, going between the sites.

    As for the weather – well it is what it is. I don’t complain when it is held in places I find too hot. Admittedly I doubt I will be hiring out a kayak for a trip out into the bay.

  9. @andyl:

    Yes, the weather is what it is. Maybe the people in NZ who are bidding to host the Worldcon didn’t have the option to move the con later, into more favorable weather. But it’s reasonable for people to take the weather into account when deciding whether this is where/how they want to spend their vacation time and money.

    I know someone who left the Spokane Worldcon early for heath reasons, because she couldn’t breathe because of the wildfire smoke. I may know more than one such person, this is the one who told me about it–and for her leaving meant driving home early, not trying to rearrange airplane tickets.

  10. @Vicki

    Yeah but it would have to be moved well into September before the weather improves significantly. Even then it wouldn’t be warm enough for picnics and stuff. Plus there would still be good chance of rain and very good chance of wind (there is always a good chance of it being windy).

    Of course people should keep in mind the weather, but also remember that winter in NZ offers other interesting things like skiing (or other snow activities) albeit not in Wellington.

  11. if I understand correctly, September wasn’t even an option. The center was booked into October. I looked at the fannish inquisition survey and it said “Late June to late August, 2020” as an answer for proposed dates, so it was an option already then. Anyone who knows from what dates they are moving the con? Is there really such a big change in weather?

    EDIT: I see that the original dates were August 12-16, so it is a move of two weeks. Not sure how much difference that makes.

  12. andyl: Shed 6 and the TSB Arena are on the same site. The Intercontinental looks to be about 100m away. The Michael Fowler (main events and one panel room) is about 300m away

    The Michael Fowler is about 800m from the TSB Arena.

  13. Norman here. Chair of the NZ in 2020 bid.
    I wanted to pop in and clarify or confirm some of the information that’s been posted here.

    1. The date change is 2 weeks earlier than the original date as noted by Hampus Eckerman. The weather will be much the same as the original date, for better or worse. We are very aware and concerned about the problems that moving between facilities will pose if the weather is wet. We are trying to make sure that we are being open about the possible weather so that the public is as informed as possible.

    An interesting weather resource is this from the Time and Date website that lets you go back about 10 years to see weather month by month. However, weather in New Zealand is very variable, so our advice is to prepare with layers.

    2. The event that blocked our facilities access has it blocked until mid October. We’re pretty sure that this is a worse time for a Worldcon than two weeks earlier. Although a Halloween Worldcon has possibilities… 🙂

    3. Accessibility is one of the things we are working to be clear about and improve. The travel between facilities is always possible by scooter/mobi/wheelchair. There are routes that are under cover most of the way, but they are longer than the most direct routes.

    We’ve added some Street View markers to our Google Map on our Facilities page. These should let you get a sense of how travel between facilities might work, using Google Street View.

    4. We are investigating shuttle buses that circulate, but there may be a cost limitation there. We would need to have some that have accessible capabilities in order to take people on scooters.

    5. Time of travel between facilities is a factor we are also concerned about. We’ve seen this handled in a number of different ways over the years. From shorter panel time available, to extending total slots to 90 minutes. Allowing for travel time and so on. This is something to be firmed up.

    6. As noted above, there are a fair range of winter activities in New Zealand at the time as well as all the normal tourist activities. One consequence of the season is that the sun is perpetually lower in the sky, producing a very long “magic hour” lighting for photographers and tourists.

    As usual, you can contact us on our website, and we do try to keep the website updated with the latest information.

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