Still, I thought it couldn't hurt to go look at the room he had in mind, especially because it was on the same level as where we were meeting today and the group using it had left and it was standing open, so I walked across the hall to Auditorium.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Auditorium is a raked-seating room, with the seats arranged in concentric arcs and a long table in front of each row. There is a center aisle and side aisles. At the room's "focus" is a flat area where the head table would be located. It's a beautiful room. It's like the House of Representatives (not so plush, of course). It's wonderful. It's perfect.
Except it's only rated for 134 seats.
Arrrgh! 134 is low in an "ordinary" year, even though it's not unusual for only 100 people to turn up at the BM. But we're expecting one hot-button topic this year, and at least for the first 30-45 minutes of the Saturday Main Meeting, there's going to be a lot of people turning up, and I just can't in good conscience agree to a room that only can seat 134 people when there's not really a lot of standing room space in the room.
Generally we prefer to hold the Business Meeting in the same room for all three sessions, even though the Friday (Preliminary) and Sunday (Site Selection) meetings rarely have as many people present as the Saturday (Main) meeting. People like to find the room on the first day and keep coming back to the same place without having to think too hard about it.
The last time I recall a Worldcon picking a room that was manifestly too small and too far away, the BM rebelled and issued a strongly worded request to relocate and re-time the meeting -- that was also the last time the meeting was scheduled for 8:30 AM, as they passed a standing rule requiring it start between 10 AM and 1 PM. I may be mis-remembering details, I admit.
Cheryl and I later went in and took some photos of the room, which are on her camera and will turn up when she gets back to the UK and has a chance to process everything. We would have shot video, but by the time we came back with the video camera, the hotel had locked up the room. I only wish there were two or three more banks of rows in the room -- it might just barely make the minimum capacity I feel comfortable requesting.
With deep regret, I informed Programming that I really don't think the room is big enough, and that unless there's no other reasonable alternative, I must really request at least a 200-person-capacity room -- I'd prefer 300 but understand Programming's constraints -- in the Palais des Congress.
Sigh. It would have been fun.