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Artist's rendering of the proposed WSCC Expansion, looking northeast up Pine Street at the intersection of Ninth Avenue.
Artist’s rendering of the proposed Washington State Convention Center Expansion, looking northeast up Pine Street at the intersection of Ninth Avenue.

Tickets to this year’s PAX West (formerly known as PAX Prime) went on sale Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. sharp, instantly triggering a feeding frenzy as hordes of geeks rushed to buy their passes to the four-day gaming expo—Seattle’s largest convention by a wide margin.

Just over two hours later, every last ticket had been sold:

The two-hour sellout for PAX West was considerably slower than the 54 minutes it took PAX to sellout in 2015. In comments to GeekWire, Robert Khoo, Penny Arcade president of operations, explained that the extended sales window was not due to a decrease in demand, but rather that the virtual queue was intentionally throttled by Penny Arcade staff to prevent a server crash.

Robert Khoo of Penny Arcade
Robert Khoo

In fact, demand continued to surge this year, hitting another new record. “Overall we saw traffic jump an additional 20% from last year,” Khoo said.

Between the main space at the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) and additional venues at The Paramount, Benaroya Hall, and seven or eight ballrooms in nearby hotels, PAX currently occupies nearly every available space downtown—more than 500,000 square feet in all. Despite this, demand for the show currently outstrips supply by around 10x, which makes managing PAX ticket sales a unique challenge.

However, relief for hopeful PAX-goers may be on the way, in the form of a major WSCC addition slated to open by 2020.

Once the new space is complete, WSCC will include an additional 435,000 square feet of space. This will nearly double the space available for PAX, but according to Khoo that doesn’t mean the number of tickets available for PAX will double in 2020.

“We would try to take a conservative approach with badge numbers that first year, and then go from there,” said Khoo. “Having double the space wouldn’t be terribly helpful if everyone still crowded into one area of the convention center, so figuring out that plan would be critical.”

It’s also not guaranteed that PAX will even be able to expand to the entire space once it opens. “It really depends what pricing for the venue shakes out to be and how cooperative the city of Seattle wants to be with us,” Khoo revealed. “Doing two equal sized venues that cross city streets is going to require quite of a bit of coordination on the city side.”

For now, expect the status quo to continue for at least a few more years. But cheer up, PAX ticket-buyers. At least it’s not as hard to get PAX tickets as it is to buy a home in Seattle… yet.

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