Why I’m not going to Hawks Con this year

The fourth annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention takes place this weekend. And for the first time, I am not going.

Sure, I like the Blackhawks, getting autographs and buying hockey cards. Those are three really good reasons to go.

Unfortunately, the cons outweighed the pros.

Here are the reasons why I’m sitting out this year’s Chicago Blackhawks Convention:

1. The price is out of hand
Since 2008, the ticket price went up from $50 to $55 to $60 to $65. I don’t think actual hockey tickets have gone up 30% in 3 years. The price goes up, but it is more or less the same thing every year. $65 might seem like a bargain for a fun weekend, until you consider the next few reasons.

2. More tickets sold every year
Not only are the tickets more expensive, but each year the Blackhawks organization sells more of them. 5,000 fans attended the first Hawks Con. In 2009, it was 7,500 attendees, and last year 10,000. So now, there are twice as many people to compete with for autographs or a seat at a panel discussion.

3. It’s in a basement
The Hilton hotel in downtown Chicago is nice; unfortunately, the Hawks Con is in its basement, or concourse level or whatever they call it. The show feels less like being at a convention and more like being in a warehouse. At least the Hilton finally put down carpeting in their basement–waiting in an autograph line on a concrete floor in a basement for 2 hours is kind of a sad experience.

4. Too much time with nothing to do
Points #2 and #3 cause point #4. Because autograph lines are capped at 225 or 250 people, fans end up flooding panel discussions. But what about when those fill? Sure, there’s a dealer room, but it sucks (see next point). And there’s some room with “interactive” games like a slap shot speed timer or shooting pucks past a mannequin goalie. Not something you can kill an hour or two with. I was surprised at how many people were out in the lobby last year, waiting to get in line for the next panel or autograph guest. Waiting…to wait.

5. The dealer room sucks
You would THINK that the dealer room at the Chicago Blackhawks convention would have the greatest selection of hockey memorabilia EVER. Or at least a decent selection. Instead, the room has a handful of dealers, along with a bunch of vendors I have no interest in: the Marine Corps. recruitment, some local construction company, Verizon Wireless, a local lacrosse (yes, lacrosse) team. It feels more like a trade show than a dealer room. Last year, I couldn’t find a Jake Dowell card, but I could have bought new windows, got on a new cell phone plan and enlisted in the armed forces . Go figure.

My final reason for not going has nothing to do with the Blackhawks Convention iteslf:

6. The National Sports Collectors’ Convention is coming to Chicago this year
Yes, “The National” will be in my home town. I decided that instead of spending $130 for two passes (one for me, one for the girlfriend who really doesn’t want to go anyway) to the Hawks Con, I would spend that very same amount on purchasing one 5-day pass for The National. I honestly think I’ll have more fun at a 5-day card show than the 3-day Blackhawks Convention.

Of course, part of me still yearns to go to Hawks Con. I looked at the website, and see several players that I want to get autographs from. But all the autograph-seeking I did last year made the convention less of a joy and more of a chore. Wait in this line, wait in that line…try to squeeze in at a panel discussion.

So this year, I need a break…or more accurately, a breakup.

It’s not me, Blackhawks Convention, it’s you. Change your ways. If you increase the ticket price, decrease the amount of tickets sold so it isn’t so crowded. Move to a venue that is above ground. And lower your exhibitor prices so we get some more dealers selling hockey memorabilia, and not just a few selling the same old stuff. Do all that and maybe–MAYBE–I’ll come back next year, blue Sharpie in one hand and binder of cards-to-get-signed in the other. But until then, we need time away from each other. It is for the best.

Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

9 thoughts on “Why I’m not going to Hawks Con this year”

  1. The Bears ruined my convention experience years ago and I have no desire to return to any of them. Their convention was in the basement at the Hilton as well, pre-carpet, and the lines to get autos were ridiculous. Part of the problem was the big name guys (looking at you Urlacher) were only signing for kids. Now don't get me wrong, I think it's great for the kids to have that opportunity but the problem was everyone there wanted the big name autos so when they were shut out they flooded all the other lines. We waiting any hour for Roosevelt Colvin!

    I'l just wait for the guys I want to be at a show, pay my money, and wait for my number to be called while enjoying all the real dealer tables.

  2. Great post and great piece. Please be sure to come introduce yourself at The National. We will be broadcasting the radio show(Card Corner Club Radio now Cardboard Connection Radio) show LIVE from booth #659 in the Corporate Pavilion area

  3. I don't want to go per se, but I would because the autographs make you happy. It is boring as all get out for me, but I can knit, read, play Nintendo DS, etc. while sitting in line for hours on end… which you were wise enough to reward with sushi and Manga. I require adequate bribery; I didn't drag you through three days of Art Chicago NEXT nor the Basset Hound Waddle weekend. 😀

    Anyway, I can get things signed while you scoot around and stuff. A panel discussion is generally lost on me for lack of interest. Also, I will point out players sign nicer for a woman. The comedy part is nice for the sake of Second City, if you can get in. The 'Hawks have crammed in the 'con like sardines. How crowded it was last year was stressing me out. Some halls were so choked with crowds of people, you had a hard time moving from point to point. It was like a jammed subway car during rush hour. The dealer room is like brick layers, roofers and businesses that pay for local TV commercials. Then the three or four people with memorabilia.

  4. sounds like sa lot of events these days–starts off small, gets bigger, cost more. less time and less to do-at least the National is a great option–can't wait for any tweets or blogs from you

  5. And to think that you have your Momma
    and A.G.to thank for getting you started on your long love of HOCKEY!!!
    I remember you going to Gunzo's for
    your first set of gear….
    My son, you know your stuff!
    From Mom

  6. Aaaand repeating again, I’m not into collectibles or autographs! But if I could get to Esposito or Bannerman like prior years, my beer league novice team does need a sub goalie… 😀 That would be fantastic…

    da girlfriend

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