An email has been going around claiming that Wizard World has targeted the Midwest Comic Book Association by running a show at the Minneapolis Convention Center two weeks ahead of the neighbouring Minnesota Spring Con in Saint Paul in May, 2014.
Recently, Nick Postiglione, one of the lead MCBA volunteers recently spoke with Peter Katz, Senior VP of Business Affairs& Development for Wizard who informed him "we had no idea that we were scheduling so close to the MCBAs event" and further continued that the proposed space (the Minneapolis Convention Center) "Only had the first weekend in May available to us". The MCBA SpringCon dates for 2014 have been posted for quite some time on numerous industry websites and the MCBA website as well. In addition, one quick phone call inquiry to a space rental employee about space availability at the Minneapolis Convention Center put the lie to his availability statement. Evidently, the first week in May was specifically and strategically chosen.
Another interesting tidbit casually mentioned by Postiglione "About a year ago, we were approached by Wizard to see if we were for sale or absorption" he continued "I told them that given the fundamental structural differences in our respective organizations, that probably wouldn't be possible. But we'd be happy to help their efforts in establishing a presence here. I just had no idea that they actually intended to land right on top of us. It's an unfortunate situation, a huge disappointment for many of our volunteers, and ultimately a missed opportunity for the various communities we serve as well."
Contact with MCBA representatives seems to indicate that they rather agree with the message. And a check of the Convention Center does seem to reveal a lot of space, timewise for next year so far.
I contacted John Macaluso about these issues, he told me that the demand of Wizard World, both space and time for set up, meant that date was the only one available to them and it's not a lie.
He was very insistent that Con Wars is not in his DNA, and as he is setting up 17 shows for next year across the country, he is trying to avoid local conflicts. That any approach to MCBA must have been before his time, and it was not on his radar.
He did state that if the organisers wanted to contact him, he would be happy to try and work something out, including promoting their show. We look forward to hearing how this works out.
But the controversy is already having an effect. Artist Allison Sohn and partner of Adam Hughes told me;
Stephen Shamus has been asking Adam to attend the Wizard show of his choice for at least a couple of years now. I reminded him that we don't do Wizard shows because of their predatory business practices. He assured us that Wizard didn't do that anymore. So just when we were considering trying the New Orleans show, I get this message about how Wizard is trying to run Spring Con out of business by setting up a couple of weeks before them. I then emailed Stephen Shamus, told him I'd heard about Minnesota, and he could count on us to continue to boycott Wizard's events.
While it hasn't been announced, Adam and I had already RSVP'd to attend Spring Con this year. We'll be putting all the support we can behind our friends at the Midwest Comic Book Association.