Quoted from Methos:
The load out at the end of the show last year was horrendous, don't let anybody fool you. I'm not playing on bringing any machines this year because of it. At the Sheraton it was much easier. I understand this venue has tied the hands of the organizers, but it just isn't worth it to me.
To put it mildly, I'm disappointed in how you're characterizing this. I don't think that I'm "fooling" anyone and saying that last year was great, however two major things need to be looked at:
First, 98% of the problem with the load out last year was horrendous because of the blizzard. If we had been in the same situation at the Sheraton, it would have both completely destroyed the show (the tent would not have been able to stay open on Sunday, and instead of us losing thousands of walk up attendees, it would have been impossible to run what we promised) and the load out would have been just as big of a cluster if not more so.
Along with that, we were not allowed to do things the way that we wanted to do them. While we would not have been able to make everything perfect last year - mainly because of the blizzard - we ended up being told we couldn't do certain things.
Considering both of those things, the line was still gone less than three hours after it started. In fact, if you discount the first 30 minutes (because we had no line until 5:30), the line was only a thing for about two hours.
That's still unacceptable to us, and it absolutely sucks when the venue is suddenly telling us that everything we had planned to do won't work and they will just do things so we can't communicate to anyone what is going on because their system is f-ing broken. Which it was. As some people who were working the docks know, there were times the docks were completely cleared of cars picking up and we weren't allowed to have more people bring things up because the center put us on a clock for NO REASON and was allowing up five cars every ten minutes. So if they were five guys picking up a single machine, we'd have them over and loaded in three minutes and then STAND AROUND for seven minutes.
ALL of that is different because I was absolutely not going to put up with that again. And honestly, afterward they acknowledged the problem but then said that to fix it, they wanted to run the dock entirely the next year. I made it extremely clear that if we did that, we were not resigning.
Before I explain how it will work this year, let me also point this out - If it wasn't snowing last year, we could have loaded both trailers and additional vehicles at the end of the ramps. This would have been an about 20ish foot walk but would have allowed us to load 10-20 cars at a time per dock, or 30-60 at a time. That change alone probably would have solved everything, but no one wanted to do that because it meant they were plowing snow with a pinball machine, which wasn't something people are willing to do (because duh). While I can't guarantee that we won't have a snowstorm again, based on what the weather is usually like at that time of year, we shouldn't have one, and if we don't, that should make most of the rest of what I'm about to describe moot.
Additionally, it turns out we can load out the second level in a whole different spot. Last year, the second level alone had multiple trucks, multiple cars, and due to the distance they were going they were some of the groups that had to end up parked at the dock for longer periods of time. They have a different spot altogether, so this won't be an issue and should greatly reduce issues upstairs.
As for the actual changes, here is how it will work this year... (Vendor hall is similar, if anyone needs to know that, I guess PM me)
You will bring your machine or machines to the back of the hall when they are ready to be picked up and you will check them out with one of our guys who will confirm they are yours, confirm where they are, and give you a pass up to the dock. They will also be able to tell you if there are any anticipated issues at that particular time, so like if we know there is a slight backup we might say hey, everything is good, you may want to give it just a few minutes or whatever.
Now that you've got this pass, you go to your vehicle and drive to the dock. At the very entrance to the dock, your "pickup ticket" will be checked. This ensures that we don't have any situations (like we did last year in a couple cases) where people bring up their cars and then go break down their stuff.
At the top of the dock, a second person will sort people into two lines - one line for the vendor hall, one line for the game room. At the front of that line, the person there will direct you to move to the dock where things are ready to be loaded.
Upon arriving, you load up your game. Additionally, we will have a "load out help team" of four people (just for the game room alone) to help load vehicles with games. They are professional movers, and load all my games (and have for years), and helped Chris load Kingpin up last year too. They do not HAVE to help, however, for anyone who wants to move things themselves.
As soon as you're loaded, you'll be able to go.
What this should do, and I invite any constructive criticism to tell me anything we've overlooked, but we believe this should be a solid system. I expect that even in the case of a snowstorm, we should be able to load any car that pulls up to the dock with a game one per minute, meaning 60 cars an hour if we're only using five spots. If, as we expect, we can stagger cars just below the dock, our capacity for load out is expected to be 120 cars per hour. And, this is *just* on the game room side. The Vendor side we expect it will take a little longer because they usually have more boxes and stuff to properly fit in, but our estimates there are in the case of a snowstorm, 20 cars an hour. Without, 40 cars an hour.
The two dock areas, not including any truck loading or second floor loading, should be able to accommodate between 80 cars (in a blizzard scenario) and 160 cars (in a "normal" scenario) per hour.
To put that into capacity comparisons for last year, last year we were only allowed to have five cars of any type pull up every 10 minutes, so our capacity was 30 cars per hour.
Last year, the waits that were so frustrating were for about a peak of 2:30 minutes time, which means that in that time we accommodated approximately 75 vehicles. This year, in a worst case scenario, we expect the same number of cars will be able to be accommodated in less than an hour. And again, those 75 that we accommodated in that time included groups that we found new, better options for.
We do have more vendors this year, but that should not impact game pick up in any way as the lines will be separate.
(I used to be a capacity expert, this is where it comes through for the better or worse with all these stats... but it also gives us a working base.)
I'm not positive that it will be perfect, but I am positive that we are doing everything within our power to make it significantly better. What the center did to us last year was unacceptable, and those who know me know that we wouldn't let it work that way.
I also truly believe that this year we will make this system better than what we had at the Sheraton. One of the toughest parts about game pick up at the Sheraton was that it was very hard for us to track and maintain pick ups of machines perfectly. With this system, it will be far easier for us to track and help get things out to vehicles when they are ready to go.
If you don't believe it, I totally get it and there is nothing that I can do beyond this to change anyone's mind. I'm sorry that some people feel that way, and we'll do our best in the future. Again, last year was NOT perfect, and I'm not trying to 'fool' anyone into thinking that it was. But, if anyone knows how we operate, I also don't allow places to make a 'fool' out of how we operate things, and I am doing everything under my power to make it as smooth as possible this year.
The Wisconsin Center isn't a perfect venue. But if the show was at the Sheraton last year, I guarantee we wouldn't be talking about a show coming up right now.