Hot off the heels of the most successful GR Comic Con to date, Mark Hodges and crew announced a game changer for 2017: Multiple venues. This benefits both the city of Grand Rapids AND attendees of the Con in multiple ways, and I wanted to take a minute to lay out exactly how.
First and most obvious? More space! One of the main complaints every year following GRCC has been the lack of space in aisles of the vendor areas. This will alleviate some of that pressure. Now instead of being in a big open area but sectioned off with screens, the blood drive can have its own space. It also allows for a specific area just for gaming, or to perhaps throw an all-day nerd music festival. Mark has hinted to us in the past on our podcast that he intends to use one of these new venues specifically to expand the gaming aspect, so here's hoping for that!
Second, this allows for more programming. More venues means more panels, more guests, and more chances to do really cool stuff. Panels can occur in different locations based on their content. Some may see this as dividing up the fandoms, but it also allows for people to more easily be around people interested in the same things they are. Also, Jon has his fingers crossed already for some Lego panels.
Lastly, this gets Con attendees out and about in downtown Grand Rapids. We're all proud of how local GRCC has stayed over the years, and this move only further emphasizes that dedication to Grand Rapids. Many of the panel guests ranted and raved about how much they loved the city, and now attendees will be encouraged to get out into the city even more! Just by walking around between the venues, you get to experience more the of the awesome vibe of downtown GR, check out some of the incredible food options and maybe sip on a beer or six. One would think local business will jump at this and offer discounts to costumed patrons, but that's just what I would do.
In short? This move is incredible all around. We applaud the Grand Rapids Comic Con team and look forward to next year.