In 2001, two guys started a small show “to celebrate the Atari Jaguar” at a Boy Scout Service Center that drew about 100 gaming enthusiasts. Since that unheralded outset, the event—which was later named Midwest Gaming Classic—has ballooned in popularity and has taken over virtually every square inch of the Brookfield Sheraton for three days every April. After this year’s event, which found more than 10,000 gamers, pinball nuts, tabletop competitors, and cosplayers milling around the suburban hotel (and a massive tent attached to the structure), the annual affair reached a tipping point and, as a result, faced a difficult decision about the Classic’s future. Today, that decision became official: Midwest Gaming Classic is coming to Milwaukee.
The 2018 Midwest Gaming Classic will take place April 13-15 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee’s downtown. Midwest Gaming Classic’s co-organizer Dan Loosen (who founded MGC along with Gary Heil) says the decision ultimately came down to space.
“For me, the entire reason to do this show is to bring as many people together and give them a forum where thousands of people together can show it doesn’t matter what their background is, how old they are, or anything like that,” Loosen tells Milwaukee Record. “We’re here to hang out together and have a good time.”
Loosen says relocating the convention to the Wisconsin Center will increase Midwest Gaming Classic’s available space to at least 130,000 square feet, double the 65,000 square feet the former site could offer. The event will take over the entire second floor of the Wisconsin Center and half of its upper level. There will be a dedicated speaker hall added next year, as well as other show additions Loosen says will be announced as the event draws closer. In short, it will be the same Midwest Gaming Classic you know and love, just more of it.
“Nothing will be leaving,” Loosen says. “Everything is going to get bigger than it was.”
Loosen and Heil signed a multi-year contract with the Wisconsin Center, but the agreement carries and annual opt-out clause for MGC. Though they’re free to move the show again, the organizers feel they’ve found a long-term home for Midwest Gaming Classic. The 18-year-old event will be the largest-scale convention of its kind to take place in Milwaukee city limits since Gen Con left town in 2002.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be more expensive for us downtown than the show has been for us in Brookfield by a considerable margin. But we feel like we can cover it because of the move downtown and because of what that allows us to do,” Loosen says. “We can’t really grow the show anymore at the Sheraton. We can grow the show downtown.”
The move will have a slight impact on ticket prices. Single day tickets will increase by $5 (but will come with a $5 coupon that can be used at Midwest Gaming Classic’s merchandise booth), but two-day passes will remain the same $55 price. The larger site will also allow more of the limited “V.I.G.” Friday passes to be sold.
“I have every expectation next year will work out very well,” Loosen says.
Pre-sale tickets for the 2018 Midwest Gaming Classic are available now.