The square footage is the first big appeal. A typical mall in such a nowhere place like this will have over a million square feet of space. The BCEC where PAX East is held has a little over 2 million. Yet, the price per square foot is going to be dramatically less.
The layout is quite ideal. The people providing fun each have a large unique space to work with in an abandoned store. The attendees have a very easy time with very large hallways connecting everything.
The unique nature of each empty store provides a lot of creative opportunity. Depending on the empty store and how many fixtures are left, there’s a lot for the imagination to work with. Maybe you could get lucky at some malls with an empty Disney Store or something else really fun. You definitely screen some great stuff in those empty movie theaters while you still can.
There amenities are already in place for electricity, parking, water, seating, Internet food, etc. All these things that are usually a pain to setup at an actual convention are just there and waiting.
Even if the food court is all out of business, that just provides space for really awesome food vendors to setup shop. Imagine high quality pizza coming out of the ovens of a former Sbarro’s in a town that’s never had anything better than Domino’s.
Really, it’s only going to be as good as the people who work on it are at getting creative with it. Just bringing the mall back to life, or as a better version of itself, isn’t good enough. It has to be a creative and exciting re-purposing of the space. The event needs to make sure the attendee enjoys themselves and spends money, but also needs to challenge them with ideas about capitalism and the culture that both created and destroyed the mall in the first place.