Saturday, February 2, 2013

28th Annual Cubs Convention a success at new venue (recap and exclusive photos)

A couple of weeks ago, I attended my sixth consecutive Cubs Convention and I wanted to share my experience with everyone.

Although this was the 28th Annual Cubs Convention, this year was unique because of the new venue at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers.  Personally, I welcomed the new location and thought the space was nicely laid out, even though at times there were bottlenecks when trying to get into the autograph/photograph ballroom.  I'm pretty sure this is something that will be remedied by the 2014 Convention.

Before the opening ceremonies started on Friday, January 18th, the two huge screens in the ballroom were set up to display people's tweets that included the #CubsCon hashtag.  Of course, I had to try it out and alas, it was pretty cool to see my tweet posted on the screens and then to have people around me say, "Hi, Karen!" as they recognized me from my Twitter profile picture.

My tweet posted on one of two screens at the 2013 Opening Ceremonies
When the players were introduced during the ceremony, they walked in from the back of the room and down the red carpet as they high fived and interacted with fans on their way to the stage in the front of the ballroom.  This was a nice touch - and mental note: Try to get a spot by the red carpet next year! 

Here are some photos I took during the Opening Ceremonies:

Here's a link to a video of highlights from the 2013 Opening Ceremonies from WGN-Radio.  There's always a warm, fuzzy feeling to see former players interact with current players and coaches and also when they look genuinely happy to be at the Convention with their teammates and fans.

On the second day of the Cubs Convention (Saturday, January 19th), I was able to get both autographs and photographs with many players.  One new thing this year for the photograph line was that fans received a free 4x6 photo of them with the player, which had "28th Annual Cubs Convention, January 18-20, 2013" printed at the bottom of the photo.

This was a noticeable improvement from former conventions, where you had to either give your camera to a Cubs staff member to take a pic of you, or if you wanted a professional photo, you had to pay $15 to get a cardboard photo jacket (which the player would also sign).  Something about having to pay $15 for the photo jacket and a photo that wasn't usually be best quality just bugged me.  Anyway, kudos to whoever thought of the complimentary photo idea.  And these photos were also very high quality, which was great!  The line also moved much faster with the new setup and there were no stairs to climb, which also saved time.

My photo with former Cub catcher Jody Davis, which I also got signed in an autograph line later
The Cubs also had preprinted backdrops at all of the autograph and photo stages/lines, which made for better looking photo ops.  Also new this year, there were two lines at every autograph stage.  Line 1 was usually for the current player signing and Line 2 was for the upcoming signing.  15 minutes or so before the player was due to sign, the Cubs staff would hand out a limited amount of vouchers good for "one autograph with XX player."  This way, fans had to remain in line and present this voucher in order to obtain an autograph.  This prevented line hoppers who were just there to get as many autographs as possible (mostly for resale purposes, I'm guessing.)

Autograph voucher for Jeff Samardzija
For some reason, the staff working the convention seemed a lot friendlier all the way around than in previous years.  I don't know if they had a more stringent screening process to determine which staffers would work the convention, or if they emphasized the importance of having a good attitude to the employees.  Either way, it made for an enjoyable weekend!

Here are some more photos I took over the Convention weekend:

Outfielder David DeJesus signing autographs

First baseman Anthony Rizzo signing autographs

Third baseman Ian Stewart at an autograph table

Outfielder Tony Campana signing autographs

We ran into Crane Kenney getting coffee in the Sheraton

Shortstop Starlin Castro signing autographs for fans
There were also numerous panels and presentations throughout the weekend, as well as vendors.  The Cubs museum display room was really enjoyable and it would be pretty exciting if they opened a Cubs museum near Wrigley Field (they were getting signatures to support this).  Here's a look at some of the displays in the "museum" room:

All in all, the 2013 Cubs Convention is now a fond memory.  Only 8 more days until Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Mesa!  Time to look ahead to Spring Training!  Let's get 'em in 2013!

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