(Editor’s Note: I have had to re-write this blog post at least 3 times, because I keep going on a tangent about how much I absolutely hate the Jacksonville Jaguars. I’ve given up trying, so if this post again denigrates into an anti-Jag tirade, I apologize in advance.)
Hard to believe, but the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars may hold Orlando’s place in the gaming world in their fumbling little paws.
You may wonder what an NFL team in another Florida city has to do with video games in our fair ‘burgh, so let me explain. For nearly twenty years, Los Angeles – the second largest media market – has lacked an NFL franchise, when both the Rams and Raiders abandoned L.A. for… Oakland and St. Louis? But that goes to show how untenable the stadium situation was in L.A. Now, a group is looking to change that and build a new NFL-caliber stadium in the heart of downtown Los Angeles… Near the current spot of the Los Angeles Convention Center – the home of the annual gaming convention E3. With planning underway and developers hoping to start construction later this year, it is likely that if a stadium is built on that site the 2013 edition of E3 will be held somewhere outside of L.A.
While some of the proposed new homes for E3 range from New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, why not throw Orlando’s name into the mix? As we know, one of the things that lead me to start GGOrlando was a blog post I was writing on my personal site about bringing Pax East to Orlando. And while I’d absolutely love the attention bringing Pax to “The City Beautiful” would garner for our local video game culture, imagine bringing the pinnacle event in the gaming sphere to our home.
2013 is looking to be one of the biggest E3’s yet, with likely new hardware announcements from Microsoft and Sony. These announcements are likely to garner heavy media attention, and Orlando would play a central role in telling the story.
The city obviously has the resources to accommodate the exhibitioners and media. I covered those in my previous entry on luring Pax East. But here are some things Orlando would likely have to do to encourage E3 to move shop to the East Coast:
- Event Space: The convention center has more than enough room to host the show floor and meeting space for the event. What we do lack is the major, eye-catching space to host the major keynotes – undoubtedly the major event of E3. Each of the three console manufacturers as well the major publishers make a showy production of their upcoming releases. While the convention center itself has a small space – the Linda Chapin Theater – it would likely only be large enough for one of the smaller publisher keynotes. It would be likely that the hardware keynotes would have to be held in places away from I-Drive, like the Amway Center, Bob Carr, or even UCF Arena. Being so far away from the rest of the event may be an issue for media who would have to send journalists across town.
- Party Space: Not all business is done in the convention hall during E3. Many exhibitioners host cocktail parties and other events during the event. While Orlando has many places to host these types of events in the tourist district, but I don’t know if they’d be “hip” enough for these types. Downtown seems to have more of these types of establishments, but again, don’t know if they’ll want to deal with the 15-20 minute drive from the show floor to get there.
- Travel Expense: I think the major issue will be the travel expense, as many industry players are based out on the West Coast. Packing up their wares and travelling across the country might be seen as much of a financial burden for many, especially for the smaller developers. On the plus side, it’s likely lodging and airfare may be cheaper than in L.A., especially for those travelling from Europe.
Orlando bringing home E3 is a longshot at best, but would be a major coup for developing a larger geek community. While the convention would likely return to Los Angeles after a year or two, when construction of the downtown football stadium is completed, we would hopefully have been able to use our brief period in the spotlight as an opportunity to build momentum in developing our own gaming community of small developers and studios.
But, the first step hasn’t taken place yet. It is likely that, for Los Angeles to move forward with development of a football stadium, they have to get a commitment from one of the established NFL franchises of their desire to move to their environ. With the 49ers and Vikings recently starting construction on new stadiums, the only potential franchises remaining are the San Diego Chargers (who also formerly called L.A. home) and our scrubs of a football team Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars don’t get much love… The team struggles to sellout their home games, despite blocking off large portions of their stadium. While claiming Central Florida as their home territory, you are much more likely to see Bucs and Dolphins gear on local fans during football season than the black & green of the Jags. And, with a brand new owner who only made a three-year commitment to the city after buying the franchise last year, he’d likely see the value of his investment balloon by shifting from the third smallest media market in the NFL (only ahead of New Orleans and Green Bay) to the second largest. And, there’s always the allure of becoming a major player – the owners of the sports teams in L.A. become stars themselves.
So, what say you? I’d gladly trade the Jiggies for a shot at bringing E3 to Orlando. If anything, we’d get to watch better football games come fall. And, if it works out, we have the opportunity to showcase our growing well of developers in the City Beautiful.