The more I reflect on Dayton 2008, specially contrasted with expositions, conventions and events I have attended elsewhere, the question begs “Why is the Hamvention in Dayton?”
Is time running out for this show in this city?
The Hara was a filth pile. Unswept, vendors with roof leaks in their areas, toliets out of service, broken door hardware, windows grey from not being washed.
The Salem Mall remote parking was a dodge-em of pot holes, uneven pavement, construction debris, various levels, knee high weeds & thistles, and poorly thought out pedestrian walk patterns taped off – it was about like parking in a construction site.
The surrounding area is full of abandoned stores, empty buildings, buildings in various stages of either natural or controlled demolition and basically an area of heavy blight.
Special events I attended were mostly at the Crown Plaza, which is for DX and Contestors the unofficial center of activity outside of the Hara. Though the events were great, the Crown Plaza Hotel is still under reconstruction (it was last year too!), there were broken toilets, the hotel provided a single toilet for the needs of 220 Contest University attendees and the same for multi hundred person groups of Major Dinner Attendees, locking those toilets during the Supersuite Events as they have a homeless people problem, attached parking ramp featuring broken elevators, corners of the stairs having been used as toilets, unwashed windows & missing signage.
I could go on, covering the volunteer’s complaints of late notification of tasking, the Flea Market slot assignment computer chaos, the volunteers & paid staff who were not fully briefed and their supervisors who also seemed to be unbriefed.
But lets reflect on the various other shows I’ve attended – Construction shows with a fraction of the Hamvention’s attendance at Navy Pier in Chicago, in New Orleans, in Dallas, in Minneapolis, in Milwaukee, in Kansas City, or hobby shows in Atlanta, Milwaukee, London (UK), Green Bay, Chicago, Manchester (UK), Birmingham (UK), or other industry shows in Dusseldorf (Germany), Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, or minor shows in Bilbao (Spain), Mannheim (Germany), Verdun (France), Toronto (Canada), Winnipeg (Canada), dozens of Wisconsin cities (Madison, Wausau, Stevens Point, Lacrosse, Eau Claire and more) – in all of these I do not recall a single one that was as shabby as Dayton.
In the few cases where a show’s venue didn’t meet basic expectations, it simply was moved for the next year to somewhere that was better! These shows don’t settle for second, third or fourth best…….
I’ve had a number of emails from various hams telling me that they are looking to attend this or that alternative to Dayton, mostly based on the shabbiness of Dayton.
Looking at the cost to drive to Dayton and the costs for sloppy hotels (I can stay at the Intercontinental Downtown Chicago in luxury for what a junky “traveller’s room” costs at Dayton), I am wondering if my personal cost/benefit ratio would be higher if I attended a European Ham Show or perhaps the California DX Show?
Certainly the Dayton show has limited curb appeal for many XYLs. Perhaps that is OK, but I can go to an “All Canada Show” and not have to put up with the squalor and wonder if my car would be there in the morning.
Will the Hamvention remain at Dayton is the other large question. Several writers have been proposing that other cities get to bid on the Hamvention, with the goal of securing a kept up cleaner facility not in the midst of massive urban decay.
Only time will tell if the Hamvention moves before the Hams do, or if the Ham community adopts other shows leaving the Hamvention in Dayton like some aging former beauty queen ignoring the wrinkles and infirmaries of age?
Would appreciate hearing your comments!