John Stangeland of Atlas Comics in Norridge, Illinois (5 minutes from Wizard World) saw our coverage of Wizard World Chicago (see 'Wizard World Chicago Compressed') and sent his recommendations for a revitalization of the show:
It's been increasingly clear over the last few years that Wizard World Chicago needs to move. Contrary to the misleading name, Wizard World is held nowhere near Chicago, and the desolate and backward suburb of Rosemont is in no position to attract guests and fans from around the country. It's a culture-free zone.
As it is now, no one in their right mind who was confronted with a choice of destinations between Rosemont and San Diego would decide to come to the Midwest. San Diego has a wonderful mix of restaurants and watering holes within easy walking distance. It has a beautiful setting on the harbor, and access to most of the amenities of a fine city. The convention center is well managed, clean and modern. On the other hand, Wizard World is held in a glorified barn, and has no outside appeal aside from a few hotel bars and some cheap restaurants.
The City of Chicago, however, can be a deciding factor in who comes to the show. While WWChi may never compete with San Diego because of the proximity to LA and Hollywood, a move into McCormick Place or some other downtown venue would go a long way toward attracting a new audience beyond the comic book and wrestling crowd. The lakefront in Chicago is awesome, with the longest continuous inland beachfront in America. There is an unrivaled museum campus, one of the world's greatest repositories of visual arts, The Art Institute, the newly minted Millennium Park, world class restaurants, hotels, architecture and Grant Park all within easy access of excellent convention facilities. And if the show were pushed a bit later (or earlier) in the year, organizers might be able to convince Hollywood to take their publicity machine to the Midwest. I guarantee that the City of Chicago would help promote the show to its fullest extent.
Yes, the cost might be more, but it would be repaid with higher attendance, more prestigious guests, and the wealth of experience only available in a great city.
Wizard World is stagnant and torpid. It's time for a major change.
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.