Major news in the anime convention world.
Otakon, the Japanese and East Asian anime and culture convention that has drawn tens of thousands of people to Baltimore since 1999, will be held in Washington beginning in 2017, organizers announced Sunday.
In a statement, Otakon organizers attributed the move to the "state of the facilities in Baltimore and their uncertain future" and referred to imminent plans to replace the Baltimore Convention Center and the Baltimore Arena. But such plans are not yet firm.
The 20-year-old Otakon convention was held this weekend at the Baltimore Convention Center, drawing a reported 32,000 attendees over three days.
The Baltimore Convention Center and mayor's office did not return requests for comment Sunday.Victor Albisharat, a spokesman for Otakorp, the Otakon organizer, said his organization was told it was "a very close and distinct possibility" that the Convention Center and Arena would be torn down and replaced and said they received "vague" information about those plans. He did not immediately know whether that information had come from city or convention center officials.
Tom Noonan, head of the tourism group Visit Baltimore, said Otakon organizers indicated they felt the fast-growing convention would soon be too large for the Baltimore Convention Center. Otakon organizers also announced plans earlier this year to hold a sister convention in Las Vegas beginning in 2014.
Having been to Otakon this past weekend I can say they have really outgrown the BCC facility and that the in some cases they have outgrown the hotel infrastructure surrounding the BCC. They need more hotel rooms and they maxed out the ones available. Conventions simply can not plan for their future based on vague promises from city governments, rather they must act on the best deals offered even if that means moving to another city."We put a very lucrative offer on their table, so it wasn't a financial decision," Noonan said. "They had been talking to us about how they had outgrown our facilities."
The move to D.C. will allow the convention to expand and allow more people to experience what is one the best run conventions in the country.
That is a good thing.