Btw, not trying to be a dick, just curious about the situation.
No problem. I just wasn't sure how to respond to your experience of empty seats since I haven't experienced that myself. We will be sending out more information about the event in the near future like we do every year. However, since some of you guys are ready to roll I can let you know a few things now.
While the Park Inn venue has been a great home to our event for many years there is no doubt that it had it's flaws. It wasn't the nicest/cleanest place, the rooms were not that spectacular, the prices for the room (even after discount) were not what I would call acceptable given the quality, the ballroom had low ceilings and was pretty cramped with 250 attendees (which leads to a hot and smelly venue), and it had stairs to traverse to get to the ballroom which really stinks when you have to carry a chair and gaming rig.
The new venue will allow us to provide more elbow room for our attendees, high ceilings for better and more stable air flow, lower room rates, a working PA system, no stairs to enter the ballroom, and a friendly staff that really appreciates our business. It was almost a no brainer. We also had no plans to expand while we were looking for a new home. We were fortunate enough to find a place that fit the bill AND allowed for a slightly larger event.
If you call the front desk to reserve your room, please let them know you are coming for our event and use the FITES discount. You can get a room for $69 a night. If any of you are greatly concerned about the quality of rooms (Park Inn really wasn't great either), you can request a room in the Aspire which is more expensive and not eligible for our group discount (It is closer to the ballroom though). Another option is the Red Carpet Inn .5 miles down the road for $50 per night.