Chair Arlene Busby notified Westercon 75 members today that the convention has been canceled. The event was to have been held June 30-July 3 in Anaheim. She wrote, “It saddens us to do this, but a cascade of circumstances won’t allow it to happen.”
Loscon 49, scheduled for November 24-26, 2023, at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel, will assume the mantle of Westercon 75, and will honor the memberships of those members of Westercon 75 who do not request a refund from the Anaheim committee. The Chair of Loscon 49 has agreed to accept members of Westercon 75 as members with the transfer of money.
Westercon 75 members are being offered three options: (1) to receive a refund; (2) to donate their Westercon 75 membership to Aerospace Legacy Foundation (Anaheim’s parent organization) to cover expenses already incurred by Westercon 75; or (3) to retain their existing membership in Westercon 75, including voting and attendance rights where applicable and have the membership transferred to Loscon 49.
The 2023 Westercon Business Meeting will be held at Loscon 49, during which the election to choose the site of the 2025 Westercon (Westercon 77) will occur.
Kevin Standlee further explained in a post on the official Westercon website:
…Westercon 75 [is] …disbanding their committee. They are working with LASFS, owner of the Westercon service mark, to implement Section 1.9 of the Westercon Bylaws regarding a Westercon committee failure. Loscon 49, scheduled for November 24-26, 2023 at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel, will assume the mantle of Westercon 75, and has said that they will honor the memberships, both attending and supporting, of those members of Westercon 73 who do not request a refund from the Anaheim committee. The 2023 Westercon Business Meeting will thus be held at Loscon 49, as will be the election to choose the site of the 2025 Westercon (Westercon 77). All members of Loscon 49, including those members of Westercon 77 who transfer their memberships to Loscon 49, will be eligible to vote on the 2025 Westercon site selection and at the Westercon 77 business meeting.
[Thanks to Rick Moen for the story.]
Update 05/15/2023: For more information on the Westercon Business Meeting, contact:
- Westercon Chair: Kevin Standlee [email protected]
- Westercon Business Meeting Deputy Chair: Martin Pyne
- Westercon Business Meeting Secretary: Linda Deneroff
- Westercon Videographer: Lisa Hayes
- Westercon Site Selection: Linda Deneroff [email protected]
This is a shame.
Guess we shouldn’t have spent that #1200 on plane tickets…
I hope that Alaska and Southwest will allow us to transfer our tickets to LAX. The hotel room is an easy cancel.
$1200 is reasonable for two people coming from Alaska, or Canada or some other fairly far off place.
Kevin said on Dreamwidth that the cause was basically money. There are usually serious penalty clauses for cancelling function space close to the time of an event, so it must have been really bad if cancellation was the lesser evil.
It’s really time to seriously consider whether Westercon, as a concept, has a viable future. (Right now, it appears that it doesn’t, considering this is the second Westercon canceled in the last three years.)
My first WesterCon was in 1966 in San Diego, an astonishing 57 years ago. Yikes!
I remember 4SJ on a panel mentioning that he’d in in fandom for 30 years by then, and I thought he must be really ancient.
John Lorentz: I agree. While I thought Tonopah was a cute idea and more power to Kevin if he wanted to run a Westercon there, it seemed to me there was also a widespread sense of relief that the series would be artificially prolonged by attaching the brand to a boutique vacation event. Westercon has not been healthy for over a decade.
My experience was that the Tonopah Westercon was a triumph and near-ideally suited to late-pandemic realities and the challenges an aging gen-con faces that is both regional and travelling, e.g., the cap on membership was perfectly fine. By “triumph”, I mean that the venue met and exceeded Kevin and Lisa’s advance billing. It was both cozy and lively.
Much as I would love for Kevin Roche and Andy Tremblay’s superb Sacramento Westercon (2013, a brief return to big Westercons) to be matched by its successors, if we only get delightful small ones in eccentric but good and affordable locations a la Tonopah, personally, I’m all in — and next time will make the extra effort to (again) be con staff. The exceptional ought not to be the enemy of the quite-good.
The membership cap we announced was because of the fire marshal’s occupancy limit of the Tonopah Convention Center. We never expected to hit it the 450 member limit, and indeed, only 158 members (out of 278 attending, 1 child, and 59 supporting) picked up their membership badges. We kept our membership statistics regularly updated so that potential members knew how close we were to a potential membership cap.
I do not have exact figures, but I think that Anaheim ended up with substantially fewer members that Tonopah had, with substantially higher projected costs for Anaheim. The Tonopah Convention Center cost only $575/day (including the $50/day for the kitchen and $25/day for the bar) to rent. I do not have the details, but I think Anaheim’s hotel facility costs were much going to be higher than that. So much higher costs and far lower projected attendance meant that pulling the plug before the costs would bankrupt the convention’s parent organization was the only prudent choice.
From my position as an area head of Westercon 75 Anaheim (a position I retain as part of Loscon 49/Westercon 75 Los Angeles; Business Meeting Chair), we were (barely) going to have enough “people points” to operate the convention, but nowhere near enough money. Now if someone had decided to give the convention a $10,000 grant or something like that, it might have been different, but some of the things I’ve seen elsewhere online proposing loans (which would have to be paid back) wouldn’t have been viable, in my opinion.
Even as it was, there were a number of things that Tonopah would not have been able to do without the grants we received. UFO (parent of Westercon 72) granted us enough money to allow Westercon 74 to have guests of honor (which we had said when we were bidding we wouldn’t do because we wouldn’t have the money for it). SWOC granted us $1000 (of which we shared half to Westercon 75) for general operations. We are winding up our final responsibilities, and I expect to have a final report including a financial report by the end of June, and I expect the Westercon 74 committee to recommend to our parent non-profit corporation, SFSFC, that they discharge the committee at their next meeting in July.
To my relief, it was not necessary for Lisa Hayes to make good on a promise she made to the SFSFC board while we were bidding to “backstop” up to $5000 of expenses in excess of revenue out of a small amount of inheritance she received from her parents. And Lisa would have done it, particularly anything having to do with her vision of the convention. I may have chaired it, but she’s the one who drove the vision of the convention. She was the first member of the committee who set foot on the Tonopah Convention Center around fifteen years ago while killing time in Tonopah as she waited for parts to arrive to repair her pickup while she was passing through, and she was the last person out the door when we turned the keys back over to the TCC after load-out on the day after the convention.
Knowing what I know now, I would be very reluctant to bid for a “traditional” Westercon (i.e. large city, big hotel, etc.; not a small inexpensive site) without at least $10,000 in financial reserves.
It’s too late now and water over the bridge and all that, but I wonder if Discon3 could have made a donation to save this Westercon?
But, as Kevin says, it is time to think about avoiding traditional large Westercon venues. Or perhaps just ending Westercon.
Of course, it didn’t help that in this case Baycon wound up on the same weekend which was kind of an unpleasant surprise.
At least I didn’t buy plane tickets. I did buy some hotel points to complement the Choice Hotel points I already had (courtesy of Radisson) in order to stay for “free”. Now I need to figure out where to use them.
With respect to the Baycon conflict (which I agree is an issue in this case), it might be worth allowing Westercon to move to different dates if announced in a bid. The bylaws STRONGLY implying “The convention will be on July 4th weekend” (it’s not a hard rule, but there’s a strong finger pointing there) seems to preclude getting out of another convention’s way.
The 2020/21 situation should really not be considered evidence of “sickness”. A very large (and I do mean VERY large) portion of fandom wasn’t doing conventions in 2021, to say nothing of 2020. I do think a post-mortem on this one (e.g. how many sign-ups they had, how many rooms booked) would be useful. Like, setting aside that it was in the middle of nowhere, would pursuing a facility more like that (say, a fraternal organization hall or similar) make sense? What’s the viability threshold for various facility situations? Etc.