Hoofing it at NAB

New South Hall Nearly Doubles Exhibit Space, Walking Distance

Las Vegas

(click thumbnail)Wear comfortable shoes and plan carefully when treading the expanded Las Vegas Convention Center (New South Hall is on the right).
Going to NAB? Remember this: P.P.P.P.P.P. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. (I know there are six "P"s and only five words that start with P, but TV Technology IS a family-friendly trade magazine.)

"But I always do my planning for the conference," you protest. "What could possibly be different?"

Your humble servant has done some legwork for you, literally. In mid-January, I took a walk through the new facilities at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and I’m here to report to you that you’re in for a surprise at NAB next month. Follow along.

To help you orient yourself, imagine you’ve gotten off the bus from your hotel and are going in the front door of the LVCC. If you were to look to your left, you would see the Las Vegas Hilton. But turn to your right instead. That’s where the surprise lies.

Now walk into the LVCC and head for the huge exhibition hall to your right, the one that used to be named "S" for South. If you walked from the upper end of that giant hall – where Harris and Philips were last year – all the way to the far end, you would have walked a little less than a quarter mile.

This next part may panic you a bit, but if you read to the end, I think I can calm your nerves.

Instead of walking to the other end of that huge hall, turn right (away from the Hilton) and walk out a door in the front corner. Just outside, you’ll see an entrance door, which leads into an enclosed concourse. That concourse takes you across Desert Inn Way, a little less than a quarter-mile directly away from the Hilton. It includes a ride up a long escalator (or stairs, or elevator). There, you’ll discover a new huge hall, running the same direction as the old huge hall.


This new "S" (for South) hall you’re entering is even longer than the old hall (now named "C") that you’re familiar with. Oh yeah, almost forgot: it’s got an upstairs AND a downstairs. The hallway you walked is the only way to get between the "C" and "S" halls on foot, unless you want to walk along the sidewalk where the busses pull up. That won’t save you any time.

Busses from the hotels will stop at both the entrances to halls "C" and "S," and there will be bus service between the entrances. NAB has also put in an LVCC loop bus route that will stop at designated points around the LVCC complex.

Now let’s talk about planning. For NABs in the past, I’ve always separated my days at the Sands from my days at the LVCC. But once I was inside the LVCC, I knew I could get from any location to my next appointment in five minutes if I hustled and didn’t stop to talk with anybody. I might leave a trail of destruction in my path like a rogue bowling ball, but I could make it anywhere in five minutes.

Guess what? If you’re at the extreme far end of the "C" hall and you have to get to the extreme far end of the new "S" hall, you’re talking about close to three-quarters of a mile. Five minutes isn’t going to cut it. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have to plan a little more carefully than I have in the past.

Fortunately, NAB’s got some tools on its Web site to help both of us do just that.


"We’re using a new mapping system this year," NAB’s Web guru Pete Ratkevich told me. "ExpoCAD’s VR2 module [the Internet component of our internal exhibitor management system] allows us to keep the floor plan completely up-to-date, and it has so far proved to be a much faster download than previous online floor plans."

It’s been my experience that the printed exhibit floor maps provided at the show have just too much detail in too small a typeface to help you navigate easily. Instead, I’d go online to NAB’s site before leaving home, call up the maps they provide, locate exhibitors of interest and print out the customized map.

How do you find the right exhibitors? Not to worry, said Ratkevich.

"We will have a number of new search vehicles for our exhibitor listings, by far the most popular part of the site," he said. "In addition to name and business category searches, visitors will be able to search by geographic location (state and country), international business interest (export status, global marketing regions), as well as an open text search on all exhibitor and product descriptions."

Now I don’t carry a PDA yet, but I just talked to someone who raved about using hers at NAB last year. Pete thinks she’ll be even happier this year: "We will also have a more comprehensive downloadable PDA application this year containing all the information on our conferences and exhibitors in one light, easy-to-use program."

Here’s one tricky part: the only way you’ll know which of the LVCC’s halls an exhibitor is in will be by the booth number. Almost all exhibits in the convention center begin with an "L."

So far we’ve concentrated on the exhibition halls, but you should know that the engineering meetings will be held in new "South" meeting rooms at the entrance to the new hall. There are also meeting rooms in which exhibitors can schedule events at the far end of the new hall. I’d be sure to look carefully for the location of any meeting rooms.


I don’t want to paint the opening of the new "S" hall as a black day. For one thing, the new space allows NAB to fit more easily into the LVCC. Though the Sands will still be in use, the convention bureau won’t have to carpet the parking garage like they did to house the Webtopia exhibits last year. In fact, the total exhibit space for 2002 will be almost identical to what NAB filled in 2001 – about a million square feet.

Yes, there’s an upstairs and downstairs "S" exhibition hall, but there are also escalators, elevators and stairs at both ends – as well as in the middle.

Another nice addition is the fact that snack bars are scattered a lot more liberally in the "S" hall than in old "C." Add to that a food court, with a variety of cuisines at the entrance to "S." The food court facility will just be opening about the time NAB begins.

And about the new upstairs and downstairs "S" halls being a quarter mile long: while that’s true, in 2002 they’ll each only be filled about 75 percent of the way back. We won’t feel the FULL effect until 2003.

Plan ahead.