ALEXANDRIA, VA -- The three national trade associations that own Fun Expo announced today that they have decided to shutter the show, which catered to operators of family entertainment centers. Sources close to the show said Fun Expo had lost money in its final edition, which commingled with Amusement Expo last March in Las Vegas.
Fun Expo was 50% owned by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, as a result of the parks association absorbing the International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry in October 2009.
Fun Expo's other two owners, the American Amusement Machine Association and the Amusement and Music Operators Association, each had a 25% stake. But IAAPA effectively controlled the show's fate, and for weeks -- if not months -- persistent rumors had been circulating in the industry that Fun Expo would be discontinued.
In related news, the three associations announced today that IAAPA will produce an FEC-focused seminar program for next year's Amusement Expo, which will run from March 1 to 3 in Las Vegas. IAAPA will also have a booth at the 2011 coin-op show and will host a social event at the show. Amusement Expo is co-owned by AMOA and AAMA.
The decision by IAAPA to support Amusement Expo with an educational program suggests that, for now at least, IAAPA will not launch a spring edition of its popular Attractions Expo, traditionally held in the fall. Rumors of a possible spring IAAPA show had also been circulating around the industry for some time.
Meanwhile, Fun Expo's website -- funexpo.com -- went dark this month, presenting visitors with this message: "This website is currently unavailable due to a problem with the account." The notice also requests the site owner to contact the host. As recently as May, the Fun Expo site's homepage posted dates for the March 2011, edition of the show and promised that more information was "coming soon."
For the past decade, Fun Expo's tripartite ownership has been encompassed by an umbrella group called Leisure Entertainment Trade Shows. The LETS agreement expires Dec. 31, 2010. The industry has been waiting since April for official word as to whether any of the three co-owners would decide to let the LETS agreement lapse. The June 11 statement by AAMA, AMOA, and IAAPA said the associations "have jointly decided not to extend their 10-year joint venture agreement to produce Fun Expo International beyond the 2010 event which took place in March in Las Vegas" -- effectively signaling the end of LETS, as well.
Officials of three associations have been saying for six months that they could not comment on the future of Fun Expo for 2011, and beyond, until a series of conditions was met. In November 2009, they said the agreement to commingle Fun Expo and Amusement Expo in 2010 must be completed first. In January 2010, they said Fun Expo's future in the out years could not be decided until the 2010 Amusement Expo and Fun Expo had been held. After the show was completed, officials said Fun Expo's future could not be determined until show results were evaluated.
Fun Expo, launched in 1991 by Bellwether Expositions, is widely regarded as the industry's first successful national trade show focused on family entertainment centers. IALEI was initially a key sponsor of Fun Expo, but did not own an interest in the show. In 1998, Bellwether sold Fun Expo to the Reed Expositions group.
IALEI, AMOA, and AAMA in 2001 purchased their respective shares in Fun Expo from Reed and created LETS to manage the event. Fun Expo collocated with the fall AMOA International Expo from 1999 through 2008.
Several years into this successful collocation, Fun Expo exhibitors became concerned when IAAPA announced it would begin holding its fall shows in Las Vegas every other year. The first Las Vegas show was held last November.
In mid-2008, LETS accordingly approved collocating Fun Expo with AAMA's Amusement Showcase International in the spring, starting in March of 2009. The IALEI merger followed in October 2009. But before a second ASI-Fun Expo collocation could take place, AMOA and AAMA merged their shows into Amusement Expo. That show staged its first edition this March in Las Vegas, commingled with Fun Expo.