Quoted from goatdan:
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