(Topic ID: 211751)

This Week in Pinball: What is going on with Expo? Hear from Rob and Mike Pacak

By pin2d

1 year ago

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  • 314 posts
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  • Latest reply 1 year ago by Marvin
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    2 key posts have been marked in this topic

    Post #243 Key posted, but no summary given Posted by goatdan (1 year ago)

    Post #284 copy of announcement from Rob Berk re: full ownership of the show Posted by Litedpinballmods (1 year ago)

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    #6 1 year ago

    So now Chicago is going to have two shows?

    #10 1 year ago
    Quoted from Marvin:

    Probably not, hopefully expo dies quickly with this taking it's place, and it's name back.

    It sounds like they are fighting over the name and decided no one can use it. If there isn't an Expo show this year by Pacak, I can't imagine him just going yeah sure use the name next year.

    Maybe I should make an MGC South to throw into the mix in the future too?

    #21 1 year ago
    Quoted from ZEN:

    I'm excited to get everyone back in one room again, makes sense..

    It would, but I'm not sure that will happen. Pacak has said on a thread on this on Facebook Expo is still on. It sounds like people will be in two completely different rooms, and asked to pick sides - and heck, that's how the article sounded too. No matter what you think of the people involved, I don't ever think that the way to grow is by tearing someone else down.

    I sort of said it jokingly above, but I wasn't actually kidding about MGC South. We'll see what happens. We've been exploring that for a while now.

    #51 1 year ago
    Quoted from pin2d:

    To clarify the headline, "EXPO 2018 Cancelled, Replaced by Pinball Palooza?" is supposed to read as one big question.

    From some Facebook posts made by Mike this morning, it sounds like he is planning to still hold Expo October 17-21. So two pinball shows in Chicago in the fall.

    I find it an odd choice of headline, especially since it seems like Mike was more than willing to share that Expo would still continue regardless.

    Quoted from Whysnow:

    MGC is electric with fun and energy. Honestly my favorite show just because there is so much to do

    Aw, thanks

    Quoted from Whysnow:

    drunken orgies

    Wait, there are? I feel like I should be aware of this!!

    Quoted from toyotaboy:

    only room for one chicago show, id prefer people start attending the alternate one and support change.

    I don't agree that there is only room for one Chicago show, but honestly, what is the change happening here? Just that a different show is being run?

    For anyone that forgot, Rob ran an "arcade" show (featuring pinball) a couple years ago a month or so before Expo. I wasn't able to attend but I know some people that were. I figure this will be similar. It wouldn't seem like too much of a change to me.

    Quoted from epthegeek:

    MGC could use the support this year especially, with the move to the convention center.

    Thanks And who knows, maybe in 2019 we'll need the support in a second MGC show in Chicago too I just want there to be a great show there without the drama.

    We have been doing legwork for MGC Chicago (or whatever we'd call it) for years, and it has been discussed with all of the players of the other Chicago-based shows (I guess now four or five of them, not just pinball!). Maybe it's time?

    #55 1 year ago
    Quoted from pin2d:

    I was going by what Rob said in the interview. I talked to him last night and wrote this post late last night. I didn't contact Mike, Spooky, Stern, JJP, or any exhibitors about Rob's comments.

    Wow. Okay, more shocking that Rob would just say that it was cancelled when it wasn't, and I would have to believe he knew that.

    #66 1 year ago
    Quoted from woody76:

    Maybe since Rob and Mike are parting ways the EXPO name can't be used anymore unless some agreement is worked out. Rob was probably just saying, there will be NO expo, but Mike can still carry on with his show, but just called something else. So I guess technically there will be NO expo. I am just guessing here...IDK.

    I mean, sure - but the Pinball Expo site still says that it's happening, and it has information for 2018 on it.


    If there was actually a legal fight over it, shouldn't the web site be pointing to both new shows? It's weird to say that there is no show and then have a page still with the show information showing that there will be. I don't get the timing on this at all.

    Unless they just want to cannibalize each other's markets, which I didn't think that would have been the goal?

    #112 1 year ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    If the could not make it work after 30 some years, THANK GODNESS they are deciding to try something new separate.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa WHOA. Now wait a minute here.

    While whatever is breaking down here is breaking down or has broken down, let's be real - Expo WORKED for 30+ years. Maybe that's what is bothering me about how this seems to be going down, the history of Expo is amazing and should be celebrated, not made to seem like it was a second rate show.

    Expo has been around for 30+ years. If it was a cluster the entire time, it would have never made it to two shows, much less 30. I wish we could celebrate what came before, not tear it down.

    Quoted from Whysnow:

    The first year will be tough on both, but guessing 1 (the new one) rises from the flames the following year.

    They are both going to end up with things that are rather new. But I think it's worth pointing out that there has been other shows in the Chicago area attempted to be started in the past few years with similar goals that weren't really what I'd call crazy successes. It's not as simple as throwing out a flag and saying here's a new show. It takes a lot more.

    I don't think either show can retain the format that it has had and truly thrive. I'm curious to see how they both try to address this...

    #119 1 year ago
    Quoted from Monte:

    A simple solution would be for Mike to step aside and give it to Bob. Yes, Mike is part of the history of making the expo what it was. He is also the reason it is currently falling apart.

    Okay, I need to stop reading this as I need to actually like, uh, do things tonight but...

    Let's be real fair. For however many years, Expo worked because Rob and Mike fit their strengths together.

    While there are a LOT of people on here that are jumping on the "Yeah, Mike was killing Expo" train, again, that is terribly unfair. Expo worked for 30+ years. Maybe some years not as good as others, but I remember many of the Expo's that I have gone too, and they were amazing. My first one was in 1999, and I didn't know what I was in for at all. I didn't get a ticket since I only had a couple hours and the show floor wasn't open, and I couldn't afford the seminar pass for just a bit, but I was outside the room when Gomez was doing his Pinball 2000 speech. I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

    The two of them had their portions divided. Each worked within their segment to bring the show what it needed, and that is why it was such a huge milestone for years.

    There have been issues that I know of behind the scenes for a number of years. As a "young" show organizer with "only" 18 years of experience compared to their 30+, I looked up to them even when I didn't know them about how to do things. And, sometimes, how I wanted to do things differently.

    It's disappointing that it got to the point that one is basically forcing the other out.

    For those who think that forcing the other person out will solve all ills, I'll simply say this: No big time show organizer can do 100% of the show organization themselves. Rob hasn't explained who the team is that is coming in to make this show great. He's claimed that the industry will show up, but who will coordinate that? If the issue for so long was that Mike was doing a poor job coordinating it, couldn't he have taken over parts of that earlier? I'm very confused over how that will take place.

    It seems like Mike was surprised by the announcement. I'm sure because it's how shows are run that he is locked into dates where he is for multiple years, and he won't be able to easily break those contracts, which means there will be something carrying on because that is a ton of money. To put it into perspective, the MGC has been signed at least 3 years in advance almost entirely throughout our lifespan. We worked out a crazy opt-out clause with the Sheraton where we had been which did allow us to move and shop the show yearly, which was both terrible and good, but if they are signed for multiple years out, well... It means they could be on the hook for a lot. Our final Sheraton contract, if we would have broke it after signing it, the "fees" for leaving were in the six figures.

    So, while I don't know if the issue is the same, if Rob is deciding to break the partnership and leaving Mike holding a contract that needs to be filled, that sucks. And you're going to see something filling that show space and "competing" against Rob's new show not because Mike is being a jerk about it but because otherwise the financial repercussions are crazy.

    What it is that fills the space and how that works is what the question now is. I have ideas about how things could be done, and I hope for the sake of the continued success of Expo that both sides get their way. Right now it feels like Rob has gotten his way by moving off to do his own thing, but... It isn't right for this all to fall apart.

    #125 1 year ago
    Quoted from terrapinmark:

    What IF Mike is locked into the Expo dates like Goatdan mentions?

    Just being real here, I can't imagine that hotel isn't contracted in some way already. And with Mike stating that he is going to run something there, well...

    The Sheraton used to have us on a four year rotation, so we would "auto" book dates for 2022 if we were still there this year the moment 2018 was done. If we didn't have the opt out clause I worked in - which I was always floored they allowed us to do because it always ended in us going back and negotiating with them every year instead of just signing and gave us more power in that negotiation, usually... Anyway, if we would have been signed for the four years, breaking the contract for us would have cost us $40,000+ for the four years. Running something in that case would have allowed us to defray some of the cost.

    If the options are lose a ton of money, or run something and try to not lose as much money, it would be a difficult choice.

    #128 1 year ago

    I finished my other stuff, so one last read before bedtime!

    Quoted from Aurich:

    This Expo Sucks™ narrative being so pervasive is relatively new. It's been a great show up until really recently, and then it turned into just a good one. It's just that people expect it to be great. And fair enough, it should be.

    That's the thing. As someone who was able to attend almost every year from 1999 to 2010 or so in some capacity, and then an average of every other year, holy crap, there was nothing like Expo.

    Expo exists like it does because it was created very specifically to cater to a crowd that it cultivated over the years. Expo can't pivot like a ton of people just think should be easy - running a show is so much more involved than most people have any idea of, and so doing what looks like it should be "easy", just simply isn't easy.

    The newer shows did stuff differently that was appealing to people in different ways, and Expo has had a hard time adjusting to that based on how it was created.

    Every year after Expo, I hear people compare it to MGC and say things like they should do things the same way as we have done. The two shows were created differently. If I ran MGC to exist over a five day period, I'd go bankrupt on it, guaranteed. If you applied what we did to Expo without adjusting anything, it would go bankrupt. Threading that needle is more difficult than people seem to be giving it credit for, and splitting the show in two doesn't solve some underlying, functional issues.

    Quoted from Aurich:

    There are some amazing private collections in SoCal if you make it into a proper visit.

    And a lot of Teslas

    #168 1 year ago
    Quoted from toyotaboy:

    I emailed Rob yesterday early before it was known that expo was still moving forward. I told him every show needs a hook:

    I'd argue that Expo had hooks, but they just weren't exploited:

    - Other than perhaps Texas, Expo had the largest number of parts vendors of any show.
    - Expo was known as the fall announcement show. That's a pretty big deal. As recently as a few years ago, it was regularly talked about what was the biggest new announcement there.
    - Expo was the only place for better or worse that ran the game hall 24 hours.
    - Expo had access to some of the rarest games for many years.

    I've told both Rob and Mike this at certain times, but if I was running a show exactly like Expo, I would play up those parts of the show. Instead, they tended to play up game count the most, which was surpasses by others.

    A few tweaks and I think the Expo format could still work really well. Running two of them though will mean they will need more than just a few tweaks unless they want to compete in the same place at the same time, which I'm sorry, but it won't shake out into two shows unless they are both good with losing a bunch of money.

    Rob seems to have already stated what he's doing. Mike was surprised by the announcement, so we'll see when he's ready to make his move and we'll find out what it is.

    #189 1 year ago
    Quoted from toyotaboy:

    Pinball life party September 12th then?

    Well, if it's broken and there is no more Expo, how about Pinball Life as part of the MGC?

    Actually, Terry, I've been trying to talk with you for a while and either end up missing you or get overly busy. I should try again... Hope to see you in a month either way!

    #192 1 year ago

    That's what I meant. Not being with us, just running near our dates!

    I know you well enough that you'd never do something at another show itself that crazy! And I don't blame you!

    #212 1 year ago
    Quoted from FrankJ:

    One BIG-ass tent! Like our summer church festivals in Wisconsin.

    No. Just... No.

    Quoted from toyotaboy:

    I get that it often takes time to book guests, but MGC seems to be able to keep a running list updated on the website:

    Aw, thanks I need to announce some more too!

    Quoted from epthegeek:

    Without big news, fast, about which show specific vendors and manufacturers will be at, and what the shows will offer this year in addition, I would imagine attendance from people having to travel a good distance will be down hard.

    The issue here is that if you're a big name vendor or manufacturer, don't you want to wait until this all shakes out? I agree with you, it seems like *everyone* is between a rock and a hard place right now, as picking sides is really weird. Rob's show is only 6 months out, which may make it difficult for long term travel plans to be shifted. I'd love to find a solution to all this... It's not fair to everyone who made plans.

    #228 1 year ago
    Quoted from mikepin:

    stay tooned you will be happy ...

    I'm tooned.

    IMG_20180122_170958052 (resized).jpg

    2 weeks later
    #243 1 year ago

    Well, I guess I might as well let this come out now then...

    The other show at the Westin was going to be a second Midwest Gaming Classic.

    I'll take a minute to explain, and then I have a ton of stuff to do for the MGC in Milwaukee in a couple weeks, so I'm going to go back to doing that.

    Gary and I have been toying with running a second MGC show in the Chicago area for a few years now. As a matter of fact, both Rob and Mike knew of this plan and I've talked with both of them (as well as some people who run video game shows) and told them that the goal was to run a show like the Milwaukee show, but potentially smaller. We've looked at some locations and were hoping to start a show either in the second half of 2018 or 2019.

    When Rob made his intentions known, that same day Mike called me and said the he knew that I was interested in running a second show in the Chicago area, and that instead of running a second show to compete with Rob, would it make sense to turn the Pinball Expo Westin contract into the MGC "South" contract. Rob had made it clear that he did not want the contract at that point in time, and since the contract was executed by Mike it was believed Mike was left "holding the ball" so to speak for a contract that required them to sell an incredible amount of rules. Mike, completely understandably, was worried about how splitting the market at best would work, and if he could fill the contract, which was why he was hoping to work with us on it.

    Gary and I talked and were all for it. It would have solved a number of issues for us with the show being *exactly* six months later so we wouldn't have to work around the traditional Expo dates, and we could mold our show for whatever worked. If coin-op wanted to remain a big part of it, we could do that. If not, we could change up the contract to ensure that it was filled and Mike wasn't left holding a contract potentially for six figures from Rob having left.

    Mike was excited about the idea of us coming in to run the show. He had agreed to become an ambassador for us for the show, leaving Gary and I in charge of everything regarding the running of it. Mike would still bring in some of the traditional material that he supplied for Pinball Expo, but would otherwise get to kick back and do what he never got to do at Expo before - enjoy the show. Those that had issues in the past with anything Expo could instead work with Gary and I to hopefully feel comfortable with coming back to the show, and those who had wanted to remain doing the Expo thing could still feel like that was there.

    It felt perfect to us - a way to start the second show that we've been working on and solve the issue of trying to have Mike run a second show needing to sell hundreds of rooms more than the show did last year. We were all but agreed...

    And then... There was apparently a pre-existing deal in place for them to buy out Expo from one another, and from what I understand, Rob exercised his rights to do so. The purchase of the rights to Expo also purchased him the rights to the contract at the Westin, which based on all of his announcements and things that he had said he did not want. We had Mike talk to the hotel for us about changing the contract over to us if Rob bowed out like we expected.

    Rob apparently decided not to bow out, but instead to move his show to those dates.

    Ultimately, this means that I don't believe that there will be a second show this coming year, because the second show was intended to be a second show by us. Mike was completely understanding in agreeing to step down and hand over the control of the show. He wanted the show that he had helped build to continue in some way, and he wanted to be a part of it. Rob wants Mike to have no part in the show, and from what I understand has told him that he is unwilling to let him attend.

    I don't get it. I like Rob - heck, Rob and I talked about me coming in to help run Expo, but that didn't work out, but there seems to be a lot of petty stuff going on behind the scenes. I know that Mike is quite hurt by it all, and I get it. He feels like what he worked to build for so long has been completely taken from him. I also understand that Rob felt the need for the change, but I don't get why so much of this was done the way that it was. In talking to Mike, Mike was willing to step aside and bring in new people. I wish that had happened in one way or another so this all wouldn't feel so crappy.

    With that, I guess that the good news is I don't have to spend a bunch of time printing up flyers for a late 2018 Chicago based show. I'm glad the contract is going to be filled, and Mike isn't personally on the hook for six figures if it didn't work out. Although I definitely don't like how it all went down, I wish Rob and his show the best - heck, he'll be at MGC in a couple weeks and I'll tell him the same thing. It just seriously pains me to see a show that I looked up to so much go down in the way that it has at this point. I thought there was a solution that could make everyone happy, and it seems like that isn't going to be the case.

    Having said all that, if you like what we do up in Milwaukee, I have a strong, strong feeling that we'll be having a 2019 show in the Chicago area, dates TBD. The goal won't be to compete with Rob's show (or the video game fan shows that still exist ), the goal will be to do our own thing. And, while it will feel too late, I will welcome Mike (and Rob if he wants to come) with open arms to celebrate something that to me feels like the logical extension of the show that they started. We were heavily inspired to start the MGC after Pinball Expo after all, and one year a conversation that saved our show happened in the lobby of Expo.

    See you in 2019. Or in, like, 10 days, I suppose

    #269 1 year ago
    Quoted from pinballwizard878:

    I don’t think anyone will ever know the full story behind this whole Expo mess.

    I disagree, but I would peg the number of people who know everything at like four, and I don't think any of us care to go further with it.

    Having said that, I would suggest the same thing that I do to everyone - support the show or don't support the show based on the merits that you see for the show itself. If the show doesn't look like it is worth your time, you shouldn't feel compelled to do something for it - in this case, that will be up to Rob to change your mind. If the show seems compelling and interesting, you should absolutely go support it.

    I say the exact same thing about people coming to the Midwest Gaming Classic. A few months ago someone demanded that we share information with them about the show that I didn't feel comfortable saying, and I said if what we share online isn't good enough, then by all means, I support them not coming. It's up to whomever is the show promoter to figure out what makes the most sense.

    Now, having said all that, I wish Rob the best. I think no matter what happened, this was going to be difficult to do. I don't know what to expect out of the show, and I'll watch and hope I can make it down this year.

    I also wish Mike the best. I do think that he got the short end of the stick, but I also understand the decisions that Rob made. I would not have made the same decisions myself, which is a feeling that I have expressed with Rob myself, but it was his call not mine for that.

    It's a bad situation all around. Like I said, it pains me to see it go down the way that it did, and for a show run by two people who I both consider friends and looked up to as inspiration when we were starting our own show years ago, it sucks to see it break up like this. Obviously, changes had to be made, and Rob did what he felt was needed to make those changes. We'll see how it all works in about six months!

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