LAS VEGAS -- The AMOA International Expo and the AAMA’s Amusement Showcase International will be combined into a single show in 2010, officials of both organizations said. The show will collocate with Fun Expo in the spring.
The announcement was made on Sept. 24 by officials of the Amusement and Music Operators Association and the American Amusement Machine Association during opening ceremonies at the AMOA trade in Las Vegas. This year's fall coin-op show was AMOA's 61st. Outgoing AMOA president Russ Mawdsley, Russell-Hall Inc. (Holyoke, MA), underscored that AMOA is not exiting the trade show business, but simply moving from the fall timeframe.
AMOA and AAMA will jointly own, sponsor and conduct the joint trade event for the out-of-home entertainment industries. The first show will take place March 10-12 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where the 2010 ASI and Fun Expo had been already booked. No name for the combined show has yet been determined, officials said.
According to a statement released by AAMA on behalf of both associations, the leadership of both organizations “just recently” ratified the agreement, which calls for a new business entity to be forged; this body will have a structure, bylaws, budget and leadership separate from the two coin-op trade groups.
Presumably this umbrella organization will be similar to Leisure Entertainment Trade Shows, the entity through which AMOA, AAMA and the International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry jointly have owned and managed Fun Expo for the past decade. The LETS agreement expires Dec. 31, 2010. The new show will be managed by W.T. Glasgow Inc. (Orland Park, IL), which currently oversees ASI, AMOA Expo and Fun Expo.
A series of AMOA and AAMA teams had been discussing a possible show merger for some two decades. The earliest known negotiations, which contemplated merging the two associations as well as their respective shows, took place 20 years ago, in the summer of 1989.
These negotiations always ended when AMOA and AAMA could not agree on a host of issues, including leadership, finances, organization, and timing issues for the associations and for a single show.
"The finalization of the agreement is a testament of the current leadership's vision and focus," said David Cohen, AAMA chairman and Firestone Financial Corp. chief executive.
The latest round of talks has been under way for more than two years, focused solely on merging trade shows, not the associations. At one point, the two sides reportedly met with an arbitrator when the discussions appeared to have reached a stalemate.
A key obstacle to combining the shows was timing. AAMA pointed to surveys showing that ASI exhibitors reported selling most of their equipment in the spring, as the owners of family entertainment centers prepared for the summer season. AMOA insisted that most "street" operators preferred a fall show in order to prepare their routes for the onset of cooler weather, when customer traffic returned to bars and taverns.
But when a fourth trade group, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, announced it would begin holding its fall shows in Las Vegas every other year, beginning this November, Fun Expo felt the competitive heat and moved to collocate with ASI in the spring, starting in March 2010.
Similar considerations may have motivated AMOA, at least in part, to move its Expo to the spring, according to some industry observers. Another factor appears to have been the worst U.S. economy in decades, contributing to markedly smaller shows for both AMOA and AAMA over the past year.