By M. Mishalak, Fan with no particular credentials.
Denver has a long history with Worldcon, though we've only had it twice once in 1941 and again in 1981. This has, of course, lead to suggestions that we have one again in 2021. But with mutterings that Colorado ought to do it again I have decided to dust off some thoughts on Worldcon in Denver, though I wish to emphasize that this is not
an announcement that I plan to bid or participate in a bid for Worldcon.
Denver has the dubious distinction of having held the smallest Worldcon in '41, at just 90 members. Denvention II was also the last of the US Worldcons under 4,000 people, 3,792 according to http://worldcon.org/wclist.html
. I bring this up to explain why a Denver Bid probably could not hold the con at just the Denver Hilton as was done in '81. Chicago in '82 was 4,275, so figuring Denver would be 500 or so people smaller than the last Chicago convention would give us a (5,829-500)=5,000+ member convention. Even if we only had a thousand more than last time with 4,792, it would still somewhat cramped for the Adam's Mark, the chain that took over and changed the facility that was the Denver Hilton.
So either the convention would need to find a group of hotels relatively near together or rent the convention center. I did check into the Denver Merchandise Mart. It does have the space does not have a hotel to speak of, otherwise it would be quite adequate and much more economical than the convention center.
The situation in regards to Worldcon with the convention center is that currently it is separate from the hotels needed. From what I understand even with the new hotel being built next door people will either have to commute from Tech Center hotels on the tramline or walk up to five blocks to the hotels in the surrounding area. The new hotel will only have 1100 rooms and I doubt that any hotel could block out more than 900 of them at a guess.
There are not currently any hotels close enough together that Denver could host a convention of 4500 (my estimate) outside the convention center. The largest of the spaces with hotels outside this is 50,000 at the Denver International Airport Holiday Inn or 40,000 square feet at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. I favor the later as a possible Westercon venue, I've been told it will be large enough and have enough rooms at 625.
If the Adam's Mark were next door to another hotel it would be able to host a Worldcon as it still has 133,000 square feet of space. http://www.adamsmark.com/denver/meeting.asp
If it were next door the convention center I think we could just rent the 5,000 seat auditorium and have enough space in the hotel that we could skip renting the rest of the place. But as I count it from door to door it is a five-block walk and so it might be a harder sell, at least to costumers. It does have a saving grace of being on the mall shuttle, which would take guests practically door to door with 4 other hotels with 921 rooms. It has 1225 rooms itself and so might be a good choice for a party hotel depending upon the management.
The new convention Hyatt hotel will only have 60,000 square feet of space. I am cautious about planning on dividing up functions between the hotels. It could easily turn into one of those horrible situations where people are constantly walking five blocks between panels or whatever.
To me it seems the best option is to rent all the smaller rooms at the convention center, leaving the larger space for a trade show or something, and use the ballrooms at the new hotel to hold the art show and possibly the dealers' room as well. With the auditorium which seats 5000 for main events, the Hugos, and the Masquerade it would be a pretty good facility for the con and if the bid were ambitious they could try to expand the convention significantly. More on that later with a cost analysis.