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.