By R.G. Wilson, F21025
There has been much discussion and support through the years for FMCA to have a permanent site for one of its annual conventions. In his final address to the Governing Board at the convention in Buffalo, New York, this past July, immediate past president Jeff Jefcoat, L118344, asked the new Executive Board to give consideration to this idea. A few days later, when the Commercial Council met, several members of that group strongly supported such a proposal. When our long range plan was being developed, much discussion and consideration was given to this type of proposal. As your president, I feel we should spend some time and effort in exploring this concept and consider all the pros and cons relating to such a plan.
Having served two years as chairman of the Convention Committee, I can certainly see many advantages to having our own site for one of our conventions each year. The planning is much easier when we return to a site where we have held a convention previously. We can learn from our mistakes and make improvements each time we return.
This approach has worked well at the area rally level, as three of FMCA’s 10 areas hold their annual rallies at the same locations each year. The Western Area uses fairgrounds in Indio, California; the Great Lakes Area meets annually in Berrien Springs, Michigan; and the Southeast Area holds its rallies in Brooksville, Florida. All of these area rallies have been very successful and have grown over the years.
If we consider such a plan, we should explore all reasonable options, including a long-term lease of an existing facility, the purchase of an existing facility, or the purchase of undeveloped land that we can develop according to our needs.
No facility currently exists that can meet all of our requirements. The one that comes the closest, in my opinion, is the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry, Georgia.
If FMCA were to purchase land and develop it, we could design it to meet our own specifications. Most of the time, we hold our convention at fairgrounds, facilities that are designed to display livestock and host auto racing. Most fairgrounds are lacking in three areas when it comes to our needs. The first is adequate parking for our members, which ranges from 3,500 to 7,000 motorhomes. Next is a large, air-conditioned building that can handle 600 indoor exhibit booths. We also need several smaller buildings to hold our many seminars.
I have estimated that we need a plot of land from 600 to 1,200 acres in size. My thinking is that it should be located near a large city somewhere in the Central time zone of the United States. It should be on or near interstate highways with good access from the east and west and from the north and south. It should be within 45 minutes of a major airport. The land should be fairly level, with good drainage.
The site should be in a state that is pro-business and shows a strong interest in our locating there. The state laws need to be nonrestrictive to out-of-state dealers and manufacturers bringing in motorhomes, other vehicles, and products for display and sale. The state, county, and city governments, including any local industrial development agencies, must offer financial help in the development of roads, utilities, and other infrastructure.
Because of the size of this type of project, the investment required, and the cost to maintain it, I believe we would need to make some lease arrangements with other organizations to use the facility when we are not using it. Another alternative would be to bring in some partners with similar needs that would utilize it and share in the cost of development, maintenance, and upkeep.
These are some of my thoughts and ideas. I have sent a letter to Governing Board members asking for their thoughts, ideas, and guidance on this proposal. I would like the same from you. Please complete the following survey questions and let us know your thoughts and ideas. After you’ve responded to the questions, please mail or fax it to our Cincinnati office. FMCA is our organization, and I want to lead as you give me direction and approval.
Safe travels to you, my FMCA family.
Permanent Convention Site Survey
1. How many years have you been a member of FMCA?
2. How many conventions have you attended since being a member?
3. What have you liked best about FMCA conventions?
Please rate 1 through 6, with 1 being the best:
( ) Exhibits ( ) Entertainment ( ) Seminars ( ) Parking
( ) Fellowship ( ) Different Locations
4. Do you think FMCA should offer electrical hookups at conventions?
( ) Yes ( ) No
5. Are you willing to pay more for registration if electrical hookups are offered?
( ) Yes ( ) No
6. I would attend the summer convention ( ) more often
( ) less often if it were held at the same central location.
7. Should FMCA explore finding a permanent location for the summer convention?
( ) Yes ( ) No
8. Should it be a long-term lease of a site that is already developed?
( ) Yes ( ) No ( ) Maybe
9. Should we purchase land and develop it to our own specifications and needs?
( ) Yes ( ) No
10. Should we look for a location only in the Central time zone?
( ) Yes ( ) No
FMCA membership number:
Please mail your completed survey to:
Convention Site Survey
8291 Clough Pike
Cincinnati, OH 45244-2796
Or, fax it to: (513) 474-2332
FMCA National Office Holiday Observances
The FMCA national office will be closed in observance of the following holidays in the remainder of 2003:
Thanksgiving: Thursday, November 27; and Friday, November 28.
Christmas and New Year’s: Wednesday, December 24; Thursday, December 25; Friday, December 26; and Thursday, January 1.