Friday, March 21, 2008

I Got Them Old Convention Center Blues

This past week I spent some time in the San Jose Convention Center, giving me a refreshed appreciation of our hometown's facilities. The occasion was the VON -- voice on the 'Net -- conference.

Unlike the Santa Clara Convention Center, San Jose's operation has all the convivial charm of, well, the set of a low-budget slasher flick. It's big, barn-like, frigidly cold -- literally -- and eerily empty.

But the piece de resistance is that parking costs you $1 every 20 minutes. So if you spend an afternoon at a trade show, the tab is $20 or more. Adding insult to injury, half the time the clever little machines that take your money (don't expect to find a human being on the premises) spit out your credit card with a cheery message that your credit card is unreadable. Ditto for the $20 bill you try as an alternative.

By the end of the day -- and this may sound corny, I know -- I was homesick for Santa Clara's Convention Center with its bright, sunlit spaces and ample free parking. The irony is that the VON show started in Santa Clara but outgrew our exhibition space.

I can't wait for the expansion to be completed.

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