Worldcon Bid for France
Faces New Obstacle

The Nice in 2023 Worldcon bid website says they plan to use the city’s Acropolis Convention Center if they win. However, their newly re-elected mayor told voters during his campaign he might tear it down as part of his vision to “continue the metamorphosis of Nice into a garden city.”

A French-language news article published in January carried the proposal. Here is the lede, rendered in English by Google Translate:

A week ago, he officially confirmed his candidacy for a third term as head of the city of Nice. This Sunday, Christian Estrosi held his first campaign meeting at the Acropolis Palace.

The opportunity for him to announce that he intends to raze this building to extend the Promenade du Paillon to the North. To enable this “urban forest” project, the National Theater of Nice (TNN) will also be demolished and relocated to the former Franciscan church in Old Nice.

Nice, France is competing with Chengdu, China and Memphis, Tennessee for the right to host the 2023 Worldcon.

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18 thoughts on “Worldcon Bid for France
Faces New Obstacle

  1. Hmm, that’s a bit of an obstacle. Has there ever been a proposed Worldcon venue that’s been demolished before the proposed con before?

    Incidentally, a flashback to last years’ Worldcon, it was interesting to see that the auditorium of the CCD was the only venue in Dublin that was large enough to allow the 160-member Dáil Éireann to meet in a socially-distanced way last weekend to elect the new Taoiseach (prime minister).

  2. Arwel Parry: I don’t know if any have literally been demolished, but a hotel’s announcement of construction plans killed a New York bid for 1998. This is from a 1995 issue of File 770:

    Another Bid Sheratonned

    Smaller than a megaton, but big enough to blast your bid out of existence: that’s a sheraton….

    Louis Epstein, chairman, announces that the New York in ’98 Worldcon bid is folding. He explains, “The Sheraton New York, in implementing its previously announced option of eliminating its exhibit hall (would have been used for the Art Show), is unmaking its advance bookings and opted to withdraw from our package [reducing its commitment to 400 rooms, instead of 1100 rooms plus all their function space.] Combined with the Hilton that simply isn’t enough, though the Hilton tried to interest us in going with the Park Central. [The Park Central could only offer 300 rooms and function space that couldn’t replace the Sheraton’s.] So the dream package we had been advertising will no longer exist. There will be no New York in 2001 bid, and not likely 2004…

  3. Are there other venues available? I know nothing about Nice, but I would wait to hear from the bid committee about what the options are.

  4. @Arwel Perry: the N3 (1989) convention center was mostly torn down right about the time the bid was decided. (The lead for the folded NYC in 89 bid looked out a Boskone hotel window at the elevator core rising amid the ruins and was reported to have said he regretted folding.) However, it was all part of a thoroughly effable plan; a larger (except for the main auditorium) and much nicer center was in place well before N3, to meet obligations to another convention. Now there’s talk of tearing it all the way down because the real estate is too valuable — but part of that value is the adjacent hotels and restaurants that make their margin on the business of more-expensive conventions that don’t want to use the newer and much larger center on the former docklands.

  5. I’ve never been inside Nice’s convention centre, only walked past it (and also seen floor plans). From what limited material I’d seen, it would be Worldcon-suitable, but also the city as a whole would be really good.

    During my time staying in Nice, I grew to love its really efficient tram system, its cosmopolitan nature, and an overall very pleasant vibe.

    My condolences to the bid committee, for having to shoulder this additional worry.

  6. Even if it would be demolished, there’s not much chance that would happen in three years. Just the projecting for what should replace it and gathering architect firms and building companies would take several years.

  7. Hi! Not my habit to comment here but I’m going to expand a bit on this. I’m the OP of the tweet and I live in Nice (born and bred here), so I’m on the ground but I’m a random SFF fan and not affiliated with the Nice bid (not much links with the local fandom either).

    So, when will it happen? We have no idea. On the Acropolis website which everyone can check, they have 6 bookings in 2022 and 1 booking in April 2023. Nothing beyond that. Does it mean the works would be planned for Spring 2023? No idea. Would they tear it down despite running contracts? No idea (but possible).
    What I know is that the theatre (also planned to be torn down) will be relocated at the beginning of Summer 2021. I have no link for that, because it’s grapevine info, but straight from the mouth of the admin people at the theatre. So we may be looking at part of the works starting in September 2021.

    When and where will the new convention centre be built? It will be built in Nice Ouest, an area currently under development. It’s where you have the motorway, the airport, supermarkets, multiplexes… You can see the picture. It’s twenty minutes by tram from the city centre. You’ll find in my Twitter timeline a rough map I used to show the poeple I was talking to where things would be/are located and a link to a local newspaper talking about it. When will it happen? We have no idea. There’s nothing planned for it yet according to local newspapers and the grapevine.
    People may think that “Surely no city would do that!” What you have to understand is that the current planned venue (Acropolis) will be replaced by the extension of a very popular garden that crosses the city centre (La Coulée Verte). It is a touristic hotspot as it is (and also beloved by the locals) so extending it would probably take precedence over a convention centre no one uses much. Tourism is our main industry.

    If you’re asking about other venues, I discussed that briefly on Twitter too. But as things currently stand, there’s no venue that I know of which has a hall with a 500+ seating capacity and other rooms for a dealers’ room, panels, etc. in the city centre. Of course, I may not know of every possible venue.

    If you have further questions, I’m available on Twitter. I’ll also post there news when I have any, though don’t expect anything before a while.

  8. What are the odds that the mayor will demolish first and finish designs later? I’ve seen politicians (and worse, private developers) who would do that to make sure that something gets done; I don’t know whether he’s the type to do this or whether the local political system will let him do it.

  9. Never Mind; somehow (probably me being short of sleep) our comments crossed. I do not Tweet and don’t find details even when I expand your link, so I’ll ask here: what is the proposed new site like in terms of restaurants, hotels, etc. — will it be more like Helsinki (where from what I’ve heard almost everyone stayed at least one rail stop away), or Glasgow (which I recall from two conventions as having not-many rooms and practically no restaurants closer than at least half a mile), or are there enough facilities in Ouest that the 20-minute 2x/day tram trip won’t be required for most of the attendees? I’m struck by Tourism is our main industry. — in much of the world, conventions are considered a substantial chunk of tourism — but I suppose Nice may feel that they can leave the floods of people to Cannes. I wonder whether the bidcom feels similarly.

  10. @Chip–given that @Middle Shelf refers to it as a “convention centre no one uses much,” Nice may have a convention center that is no longer attracting tourist, or never brought in as much tourism as they’d hoped. The convention center website says it was built in 1954; the floods of people may have gone elsewhere years ago.

  11. Middle Shelf must correct me, if I’m wrong, but the big touristic draws of Nice are the beaches of the French Riviera, the architectural beauty of a city dating back to antiquity, the museums, fine food and the natural beauty of the area. Conventions contribute to tourism, but for a city like Nice they’re not as big a draw as for some cities in the US and elsewhere, which have excellent convention facilities and fewer other features to draw tourists.

    Also, Middle Shelf said on Twitter that many convention organisers opt to go to nearby Cannes, so Nice’s convention centre might really not see a lot of use. The list of scheduled events that Middle Shelf linked to on Twitter was mainly medical conferences.

  12. Actually, “other features” are frequently a major consideration when choosing a U.S. convention site; cities that have them (Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, …) are in sufficient demand that fannish cons can’t afford them. My partner’s former professional convention alternated between dull cheap places to keep their employers’ bean-counters happy, and interesting places to keep the attendees happy.

    But if Cannes is doing big business — is it too busy for fandom, or did the 2023 bid pick the sexy location instead of the one that would work, and if the latter can they move — IFF necessary?

  13. The French Worldcon organisers may have opted for Nice, simply because Cannes’ Palais des Festivals et de Congrès (which also is the main venue of the Cannes film festival) was too expensive and/or too busy. Also, Nice is the city with the international airport, not Cannes.

    Whether it’s possible to relocate the French Worldcon bid to Cannes or somewhere else in France is something I suspect the bid committee are currently checking.

    I’ve talked to some of the people behind the French Worldcon bid in Dublin and at least the ones I spoke to were not from Nice, so I suspect that they picked the city for the costs, touristic appeal of the location and airport access.

  14. Nice is the city with the international airport, not Cannes. An international airport is nice, but hardly critical. Brighton (UK) was not much closer to Gatwick (and much further from Heathrow) than the Nice airport is to Cannes; Google Maps shows train service almost as frequent as a subway, although the connection involves a longer walk than typical. We’ll see what the bid comes up with; a farewell-to-the-hall party (as Disclave had in 1979, overlooking where parts of its hotel had already been torn down) has possibilities if the city decides to wait through one more season.

  15. staircase datum: The convention center at The Hague is also further away (by time) from Schiphol than Cannes is from Nice Airport, as I read Google Maps. So the Nice bidcom has an alternative supported by history; we’ll see what they come up with. Right now the only reason I see not to vote None of the Above is the possibility that enough of the SMOFs who would choose on-site in DC (or worse, by Zoom?) have been taken in by Chengdu; we’re seeing that PRC government promises are worthless.

  16. Pingback: Nice in 2023 Worldcon Bid Folds | File 770

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