Phoenix Comicon Director Explains Decision To Move Fan Fest

News broke last week that Phoenix Comicon’s winter con, Fan Fest, was moving not only location but dates. The con had been held the past two years at the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals, during December. The move is to downtown Phoenix, roughly 35 minutes from the stadium and now it’s on October 22-23 rather than December. 

The inevitable complaining of location and date change rose up rather quickly and today, Matt Solberg, responded to it on the Blue Ribbon Army Facebook group (it’s a closed unofficial Phoenix Comicon fan page, can’t link to it, sorry!). 

There will always be disagreement and disappointment in our dates and location for Fan Fest and Phoenix Comicon. Always have been, “It’s too hot in the summer! Have the show when it’s cooler”, we hear. So we schedule Fan Fest in December. “It’s too cold, why would you do it when it’s so cold?”
Fan Fest in December was a bear to get attendees to attend. Because it’s close to Christmas. Because people are Christmas poor with gift shopping. It is difficult to get guests too, because, well Christmas and holidays.   

The stadium is unique and kinda cool, but logistically it is more expensive to do a show at then the convention center, simply because it’s not set up to do a convention. It’d be like if I went to the convention center to set up a football game. They could find a way to do it, but because the convention center isn’t set up to do a football game, it’ll cost more to get the infrastructure in place. At the stadium security and internet and outdoor lighting all were more expensive than at the convention center. We lacked programming rooms and there wasn’t much anywhere else to expand at the stadium, at least without paying a lot more money.

The Glendale location did bring out new people who never attended one of our show, but we did lose out on East Valley people who wouldn’t drive all the way out there (which is odd because I know East Valley people drive out there for the Cardinals).  

And the stadium is first and foremost a NFL stadium which means we don’t get available dates until April of that year when the NFL releases their schedule, and the dates are limited at that, maybe a selection in November or December of a weekend or two. With the Convention Center we have more options on space, more room to grow, and more availability of dates.

It’s also more centrally located which hopefully means we can grow with more attendees. Parking is a negative, as that was wonderful to have free parking at Glendale. But free parking sadly wasn’t enough to overcome those other factors mentioned above. 

We also learned that Fan Fest is not yet a three day show. So we’ve scaled it to Saturday and Sunday. Vendors were slow most of Friday both years. And given the overall attendance underperformed we had vendors and artists who did not make money both years. That doesn’t sit well with me, having previously made my living as an anime exhibitor.

What we do know is our attendees are passionate about our shows and within the confines of what we have to work with, we strive to put on good affordable shows, we are open to criticism, and we make attempts to explain why decisions are made. 🙂

What do you make of the decision? Will you be attending Fan Fest in downtown Phoenix? 

Make sure to follow Legion of Sand on Twitter for more Phoenx Comicon updates.

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4 thoughts on “Phoenix Comicon Director Explains Decision To Move Fan Fest

  1. I am a part of staff for a costuming group and the change upset many. No one likes downtown phoenix. Driving and parking stinks and october scheduling stinks cause of kids sports seasons and fearcon already in that month. We will have to vote with our members to see if this next year is worth it. Many already said no. The stadium felt less crowded and claustraphobic. I am truly disappointed with this decision.

  2. I couldn’t make it to the last two FanFests because of the location (I am in Mesa and avoid anything west of I-17 if I can help it.) December is also super busy in my office and that made it untenable as well. If I am able to go to the next FanFest, it will only be because of the location and date. Phx Convention Center is accessible by light rail, and that is the best way to get to the Con.

  3. December was the lesser of two evils – now it’s disappointing that PCC took over the weekend of a smaller show, FearCon, and is just 2 weeks before Tucson Con. And they’re also promoting Keen Halloween in October. Originally FanFest was conceived because Glendale gave them an opportunity at the stadium. It’s an experiment that should be shelved or revisited.

  4. My only concern is that it will now compete with Comic Media Expo in Mesa and Tucson Comicon. I’m actually glad they moved it to Phoenix because I was one of the people who was not attending because it’s too far to drive all the way to Glendale.

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