Rules, Policies, and Frequently Asked Questions

What is anime?

‘Anime’ is a catch-all reference to Japanese animation. Specifically, it is the artistic medium which takes the art style and stories from manga (Japanese comics) and animates them for television or theatre exhibition. While technically, anime is a cartoon, often is geared towards both kids and adults. Most anime contains elements from almost all story genres – science fiction, fantasy, drama, romance, horror, etc., which is one of the reasons anime has garnered much attention from both critics and fans.

What is a convention?

A convention is a one to three day gathering of people who are interested in a common subject. These gatherings usually take place at a hotel, or other large venue such as a convention center or a college. There are panels which are excellent for learning about many aspects of the subject matter; events to encourage socializing among the attendees; the Exhibitor’s Hall where you can find related merchandise… in short, a little bit of everything related to a subject can be found at a convention about that subject. Which leads us to…

What is an anime convention?

An anime convention is, well, a convention for anime enthusiasts. METROCON is the first anime-specific convention to be held in Tampa, Florida. We have shows, panels, guests, social events, costume and cosplay competitions, gaming areas, and much more.

How expensive is it really going to be to attend?

Whole novels could be written on how to attend a convention on the cheap. (And probably have been; Google for it if you want.) However, much of any convention-specific wisdom could also be applied to the world at large. The key is to be penny-wise. Some expenses can’t be negotiated substantially reduced, but others can. Here are some basic tips, collected from the METROCON staff and tested by their combined decades of convention attendance.

Pre-register: Sometimes, the obvious ones get past us. By pre-registering online, you save a few bucks. Every dollar counts!

Book early, fly late: The earlier you book an airline ticket, the cheaper it is. Airlines are very aggressive in their pricing in order to sell seats. The earlier you book, the faster you can lock in a cheap rate. Waiting ’til the week before the con will ensure that you pay higher rates. Also, travelers who are more flexible in their travel times – read: are willing to take red-eye flights and/or handle multiple layovers – can achieve a fair amount of savings.

For visitors to the convention from Canada or overseas: Examine your entry port. Tampa/St. Petersburg has two major airports within 30 minutes of one another, and Orlando is 90 minutes away. Many international airlines (especially Canadian ones) offer bigger discounts for flights into Orlando than they do for Tampa, because of the drawing power of the Great Mouse. Don’t be afraid to check these options; frequently, they will save you a significant amount of money.

Bring a friend, or meet one there: While convention hotels usually offer con attendees a special rate, given the two-night stay for the full convention, the total cost could still be alarming. Conspire with up to three other people – the hotel has a four-person maximum for each room – and your total lodging cost is reduced significantly for the entire weekend.

Eat wisely: Obviously, eating three restaurant meals per day can be expensive, and even dropping that down to the one “Red Warrior needs food… badly”  meal per day can still be pricey. For those with fat wallets/purses, food will be available via the convention center as well as the hotel restaurant. Alternatively, aside from the many delivery options available, there are also restaurants in the local vicinity ranging from the ubiquitous Denny’s through more select fare. Stocking up on supplies in your hotel room isn’t a bad idea, either.

“Hey, goin’ my way?”: Aside from airfare and hotel room costs, ground transportation is probably the next most cash-consuming item directly related to convention attendance. If you’ve brought a friend or two, and are renting a car or taking a cab from the airport to the hotel, buddy up and split the expense. If you’re driving directly to METROCON, carpool with your buddies and split the gas money. Every dollar you can save is a dollar you can use later.

What should I bring with me?

What do you bring for any weekend trip? Silly as the question sounds, it’s the truth. Most people get so hung up on the notion that it’s a *convention* that they lose sight of the fact that it’s pretty much just a weekend trip out of town, with a pre-planned itinerary of activities for you to enjoy.

At a bare minimum, one should plan on bringing a change of clothes for every day you’ll be at the con (3 days, Friday through Sunday), as well as one spare set in case you wind up wearing something you should have eaten instead. Other travel essentials include toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, mouthwash and such. Yes, the hotel does provide soap and shampoo, but the bottles are minuscule and tend not to last very long. The last thing you want to do is be in the middle of a shower and realize your roommate used all but a droplet or two of shampoo. If you’re sharing a room, bringing your own towel is also a very good idea, both for hygienic and convenience reasons. Stepping out of the shower to find every towel’s already been used is not a fun thing. If you’re room-splitting and think there’s a reasonable chance you’ll draw the floor straw, having a sleeping bag and/or air mattress of your own will save your back and make the con a MUCH happier experience.

As a courtesy, we have provided a checklist covering the absolutely necessary and life-saving items hard experience has told us to bring to every convention religiously.

Oh, and one other thing: When packing, do NOT push for maximum density. If everything you plan on bringing just barely fits in one suitcase, do yourself a tremendous favor and spread it out to two cases. Remember that spending money? You’re gonna spend it, and the stuff you buy won’t fit if there’s barely room for an ant to squeeze in. Most airlines allow two items of checked baggage as well as a carry-on. Why not use them?

I’m bringing a costume – should I bring anything else?

Ah, Cosplay. Very few human endeavours give one the dubious pleasure of tearing up and down hotel hallways at 3:00 am screaming “DOES ANYONE HAVE A MEDIUM SAFETY PIN?!?!”

If you’re a serious costumer, nothing I can say here will do you any more good than give you a soft chuckle of recognition. For the rest of you, plan on building a kit around one of those travel sewing kits, including bits and bobs for touching up your costume. Buttons, glitter and/or sparkles, polish for the metal bits… if you used it during construction, plan on bringing at least some of it in the emergency kit. If you’ve got a bit of room to spare and an industrial bent, bring a hot glue gun, the mainstay of emergency costume repair. Having that extra safety pin at 3am can earn you a new friend.

How do I get there? How do I get home?

If travelling by car, visit Google Maps, Mapquest, etc and get driving directions to the convention hotel from where you live – AND back again. Often, the routes can be different, especially the further away from which you come.  Print the turn-by-turn directions and make at least two copies. (One will invariably get lost.) If travelling in a caravan, make copies for everyone. Give each driver a list of who’s driving which car, what that car looks like (including the tag number), and who’s in the car with the drivers. Getting left at the I-75 rest stop because everyone assumed you were with one of the other groups when they pulled out is not good fun. Try to arrange it so every car has at least one cellular phone in it, and that each car has its own copy of those numbers. This will make communications significantly easier. Traffic in Tampa isn’t as bad as in most major metropolitan cities, but it’s no walk in the park either. It can still be frantic, especially during rush hour, and your group may get separated. Be prepared to make your way to the hotel on your own.

If you’re coming in by plane, your options are a little wider. Taxis are available outside all baggage claim terminals at Tampa International, as well as flat-rate “Airport Shuttle” vans. Most major rental companies have on-site counters and nearby pickups if you’re renting a vehicle. METROCON assumes no liability for picking you up from or getting you to the airport. With the current security focus in the airline industry, please allow at least two hours before takeoff to process through airport security.

What are my options for lodging, and any advice on interacting with venue staff?

The last question first: courteously, at all times. Remember, you are a GUEST in their hotel and convention center. You don’t own the place.

Reserve your room as early as you can, for the hotel can fill up quickly. Most hotels require a credit card to reserve the room.

On check-in, ask for keys for everyone who is staying in the room with you, up to the maximum of four per room. Don’t assume that someone will always be in there to let you in – and DON’T beat on the doors for ANY reason. The rooms have alarm clocks in them – please agree to a common awakening time to avoid grouchy roommates – and you can also request a wake-up call from the front desk. The latter is recommended if you’re planning on attending early-morning events, because, let’s face it, who goes to bed at a ‘reasonable hour’ during a convention? It’s inconceivable! You can also contact the front desk for things such as extra toiletries, but please be reasonable. Most rooms also have a 4-cup coffee pot in them, along with cups, cream, and sweeteners, which also work well if you’re craving a cup of soup at 3am.

It’s customary, but not required, to tip your maid if you’re having them bring extra stuff constantly, or if you’re messy. A buck or two can go a long way in appreciation value. Just leave a dollar or two on the pillow to thank them for their efforts.

What is there to do at the convention itself?

METROCON has, we would like to think, enough to do that it might seem a little overwhelming at times. When in doubt, there’s always the video rooms (and yes, we mean always – 2-3 rooms running continuously during the convention’s operating hours), but there is enough other stuff going on throughout the con to keep you busy for the duration of your stay… some of which might be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

With your paid registration, you get a copy of the METROCON program guide, containing on its sagacious pages the scheduled events in a convenient, schedule-like format. The schedule is also available on the website. For maximum gain from the convention, we encourage you to review the scheduled events ahead of time and sort out your plan of attack. This will ensure that you don’t miss anything you want to do in the rush of the moment. Some serious otaku plan out their entire weekend weeks in advance; the convention staff have organized their lives around it, so you can well imagine that a little forethought would be handy for everyone.

Highlight the can’t-miss events, realizing of course that your plans could change in an instant during the flow of events, depending on what your friends (old ones or new-found) have in mind. Count on having previously unknown interests piqued at least once during the convention. Also, please keep in mind that last-minute schedule changes can (rarely) happen, and we will do our best to inform you.

If all you want is the highlights…. METROCON is widely known for its variety of shows, including the Anime Human Chess Match, the Fantasy Masquerade, the METRO Star Party, the METRO Fire Show, and RCC: Rhythm City Chronicles. A different but equally as exciting set of things to catch are the contests, like cosplay and costume contests, followed by other contests such as Anime Idol and the AMV contest. There are also numerous panels throughout the weekend touching on both mainstream and niche topics, so be sure to check the schedule.

Our Guests of Honor have graciously consented to host a number of panels throughout the weekend, and will more than likely also have one or two autograph sessions. It’s recommended that you bring something related to the guest for them to sign (DVDs are a popular choice for voice actors), but if you don’t have it or forget it, their bio in the con guide will do quite nicely, and some even have headshots or merchandise for sale at their table.

What time does the convention open/close, and when are the events?

Please check our Programming Schedule on our web page or in the con guide at the convention for answers to these questions and an up-to-date schedule.

If I can only come for one day, which day should I come for?

Honestly, Saturday is an obvious choice. Events run the longest, there are more shows than any other day, and it’s the weekend. However, Friday is a huge day now that the convention is four days long, so Friday and Saturday actually have the same hours and the same density of content – plus, it’s more likely the dealer’s room will be fully stocked on Thursday and Friday until hordes of otaku descend on it in a massive retail feeding frenzy. Basically, it’s best to go for the whole weekend so you don’t miss anything, but if you can only make it for one day, Friday or Saturday’s your best bet. ^_^

What are your policies concerning minors?

We encourage people of all ages to come enjoy METROCON, as anime has appeal for all ages. However, in order to make METROCON a safe and enjoyable environment for all, we do have a requirement that all attendees under the age of 13 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is a registered attendee of METROCON at all times. Please direct all specific inquiries to the Registration staff at the convention.

How can I take the best care of myself at the con?

You know its out there: the dreaded smell of unwashed bodies. Caught up in the thrill of the moment for days at a time, many people don’t realize that, well… they stink.

At METROCON, it’s called H.O.B.O: Horrid Otaku Body Odor. As a public service (and in compliance with the Geneva Accords regarding biological weapons), METROCON has been declared a “No H.O.B.O. Zone.” Our Security staff has been burdened with the task of keeping the unwashed bodies to a minimum, and will ask the most egregious offenders to go have a quick chat with their shower.

Try to remember to eat, as well. We have, in the past, found people suffering from very low blood sugar who hadn’t had anything more substantial than Pocky and Ramune all weekend. Not only is this foolish, it’s dangerous as well. Please remember to recharge your personal mecha whenever the Fuel Low warning comes on (i.e. your stomach starts growling).

Do I need a parent or guardian with me at the convention?

All attendees 12 and under must have a parent or guardian who is attending METROCON on the premises at all times. Sorry, NO EXCEPTIONS will be made. We cannot allow small children to go unattended. The current registration prices are listed on the Registration page.

I’ve registered and can’t attend – can I get a refund?

METROCON does not offer refunds or “rain checks”. Please contact the Head of Registration with any questions regarding this matter – her contact info can be found on our Contact Us page.

What tickets can I pre-register for?

Tickets that can be pre-registered include VIP Upgrades, 4-day passes, 3-day passes (Fri-Sun), and single day passes for each day of the event. Please double check your cart and your selections when pre-registering tickets to ensure that you are purchasing passes for the day(s) you wish to attend, to avoid mix-ups.

What sort of payment do you accept for pre-registration?

We accept only major credit cards for pre-registration through our online ticketing system. No checks, mail, COD, etc.

How long will it take to process my registration online?

Usually within 10 to 15 minutes. In an e-mail, you should receive your confirmation and receipt. Please bring this and Photo ID to avoid any complications. If you are ever concerned about your status or think that your pre-registration is taking an unusually long time, please don’t hesitate to email Registration to check up on it. Your e-mail should also contain a code that can be scanned at Registration to pick up your tickets – this makes things infinitely faster for you at Registration!

How does pre-registration work at the convention?

Simply bring your receipt(s) and identification to the pre-registration desk, and we will cross you off our list and hand you (and your group, if you are with one) your badge(s). Photo ID is preferred, but not necessary. Children 6 and under will be verified at this time. If you received one receipt for more than one pre-registration or purchased more than one pass, all the passes will be given to you at once. It is your responsibility to give the passes out to whom you purchased them for. METROCON will not hold passes for people, and we won’t let the same pre-registration receipt come through more than once to pick up “remaining passes”. As a reminder, METROCON does NOT mail tickets to pre-registered passholders under any circumstances. All tickets of all types must be picked up at the convention.

What does a pass cover?

The four-day pass covers access to all four days of METROCON, including events, panels, contests and more. Some events may be VIP only or VIP priority, and some events may require a separate fee for entry (gaming tournaments, the Masquerade, etc.). Other passes (single day, 3-Day, etc) admit all participants for the designated days of the pass to all standard events. VIP Upgrades will give priority seating, early access to events, and much more. Information on individual ticket types can be found on the registration page.

What types of payment do you accept for ticket purchase at the convention?

We accept cash, money order, and major credit cards at all registers. We really appreciate exact change, too, if you’re paying in cash!

I lost my badge – can I get another one?

No. Due to counterfeiting, badge swapping, and abuse of the badge replacement system, under no circumstances does METROCON provide a discount or replacement badge for those who have lost their badge. Treat your badge like cash, as you will have to replace it at full cost if it is lost.

What are the registration hours?

Registration is open:

Wednesday: 5PM – 9PM (Pre-registration pick-up)
Thursday: 11AM (VIP) 12PM (All others) – 8PM
Friday: 9AM – 7PM
Saturday: 9AM – 7PM
Sunday: 9AM – 3PM

After registration closes, pre-registration pickup and badge purchase is available in limited quantities at our Merchandise booth, located on the third floor outside of Main Events.

Costume Policy Preface

METROCON is a family-friendly event, and there will be people of all ages present throughout the convention. Please keep this in mind when designing and choosing your costumes, and allow your common sense and good taste to prevail.

Shoes are required at the Tampa Convention Center at all times.

Please note: METROCON reserves the right to deem a costume as unacceptable and to request that the wearer makes modifications as necessary, change out of the costume entirely into more appropriate clothing, or require you to leave the convention.

Costume Safety

If your costume hinders your vision or movement in any way, you should have a friend, or “handler”, with you at all times who can move and see freely.

Leashes are permitted; however, if you are wearing the collar, you must be holding the handle. Leashes should not be extended between two or more people, as this causes an issue for the other patrons.

Public Decency with Costumes

Florida State law says that a violation of public decency laws has occurred when the genitals, buttocks, or breasts are exposed to public view for any reason. In keeping with this, we require that all attendees wear clothing providing coverage equivalent to at least a non-thong swimsuit while in public. This includes the balcony areas of those rooms having balconies. “Flashing”, or otherwise showing what shouldn’t be shown, is grounds for immediate expulsion from the convention. Convention staff may, at their sole discretion, ask you to change your attire if you are not complying with this policy. Repeat offenders will be required to hand over their badges and leave convention areas, and should consider it lucky if they do not have to discuss the matter with the Tampa Police Department. While in the convention areas, please be reasonable and discreet in your dress and behavior.

A note on public indecency – while your costume may adhere to the above rules, the METROCON staff may, at its sole discretion, decide that your costume is, in fact, NOT decent (spandex costumes without proper undergarments, costumes that border on the bare minimum of the above policy, and the like). If you are adhering to all of our policies, and we ask you to change into other clothing or find a way to cover up, chances are another patron (often a parent) has complained about your costume. Please cooperate with us in making METROCON an enjoyable experience for everyone, and think before you wear.

Questionable Material and “Shock Costumes”

Some costumes from anime, video games, and other sources may contain questionable material – there are character in Hellsing who wear Nazi insignia, for example. If there is a piece of your costume that is questionable, fits under the other policies of the convention, and is an ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF AN EXISTING CHARACTER, this is acceptable, so long as you are not wearing this costume in an effort to spread hate.

“Shock” costumes, or costumes which have the sole purpose of offending and disrespecting other individuals, cultures, or religions in any way, will not be tolerated.

If your costume will make kids look at their parents and say “What’s a _____?”, think twice. Better yet, think three times.

Signs and Banners for Cosplay

All signs and banners must follow all of the rules of both costumes and props, and are also subject to the general rating of the convention (PG-13) and all other convention policies. Signs and banners may not contain solicitation (“Will _____ for _____.”, or any variation). Signs and banners must also contain zero profanity and offensive material. You may carry a sign as part of your costume, so long as the sign is clearly relevant to the character you are portraying. Examples include: “Objection!” signs for a Phoenix Wright costume, “Hey, listen!” signs with a Navi costume, etc. Signs and banners that do not comply with this policy or any other will be confiscated, and may result in your removal from the convention. This policy also applies to white boards and other writing surfaces being displayed to the public. Regardless of whether the sign is acceptable or not, no sign or banner may be affixed to any surface in or around the TampaConvention Center.

Roller Skates, Skateboards, etc.

The Tampa Convention Center has banned roller skates, bicycles roller blades, skateboards, scooters, Segways, wheeled shoes such as Heelys, etc. inside the convention center. You may carry these items as a prop, but you may not ride them at any time at the Tampa Convention Center or on the TCC property. No exceptions!

The “Proximity Rule” for Costumes

Any part of your costume that extends more than four inches (4″) off of your body is officially considered a “prop” (wings, spikes, helmets, etc.) and should adhere to both the costume policies above and the props and weapons policies below.

Props and Weapons Preface

METROCON reserves the right to refuse entry of any prop/weapon it deems unfit for any reason. Any misuse of a prop/weapon (horseplay, dueling, fighting, running/swinging, firing, etc.) is grounds for removal and or ejection from convention premises without recourse, up to and including legal action depending on the severity of the offense. Remember – your attitude goes a long way with how each and every situation is handled at METROCON.

The difference between a “prop” and a “weapon”

A “prop” is something that you carry around as part of your costume in your hands or on your person. We use the term “weapon” to describe any prop that is viewed as related to combat or violence regardless of how you may be acting (swords, knives, guns, spears, bows, whips and the like). The moment a prop of any kind is misused or brandished in such a fashion, it becomes a “weapon” and will be treated as such (baseball bats, paddles, pipes, tools such as wrenches and screwdrivers, up to and including the kitchen sink – ANYTHING can be considered a “weapon”, at the discretion of the METROCON Staff).

Anyone who has a prop or weapon for his or her costume will need to have it inspected and registered with Weapons Check when they pick up their badge, located on the second floor mezzanine near Registration. Your convention guest badge and props will be marked with an indicator that you’re permitted to carry your prop or weapon. EVERY prop will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

You may be asked to take further measures to make the prop safe before it will be given approval. Be prepared for this contingency.

Those who have their props and weapons approved at Weapons Check MUST keep them under their physical control at all times. We WILL be checking to make sure that the owner and the item are together. If you loan your prop to someone else, or you fail to register your prop/weapon with METROCON, it may be confiscated, and you may be removed from the convention.
Cardboard, paper mache, resin, fiberglass, wood and plastic weapons are preferred – we ask that ALL PROPS be constructed of light and flexible materials, and as little wood and metal as possible. As stated before, any “prop” may be considered a “weapon” in a certain situation, at the discretion of the staff. Props and weapons that are constructed of the preferred materials will certainly receive less hassle at Weapons Check and throughout the weekend by METROCON staff, so save yourself some time that could be spent enjoying the weekend and follow our requests and policies regarding props and weapons.

Additional Weapons Rules

IMPORTANT: DO NOT CARRY WEAPONS OUTSIDE THE CONVENTION CENTER IN PUBLIC! The Tampa Police Department will treat anyone carrying real looking guns or wearing tactical gear as a REAL THREAT AND WILL TAKE SERIOUS ACTON! METROCONwill not be held liable for any legal action, injury or death that may result from violation of this rule. If you have a costume that meets this description and you would like to wear it to METROCON, please carry it to the convention center in a bag and then change into it. In this day and age you can not be too careful. Again, PLEASE use common sense.

BOWS/CROSSBOWS:
Bows and crossbows will only be permitted if they’re absolutely prop in nature – no tension on the string beyond what it takes to keep it straight, and arrows should not have any form of tip.

BLADED WEAPONS:
NO EDGED STEEL!
 Swords, knives, and other bladed weapons MUST be of a prop nature: foil-wrapped cardboard, THIN painted wood, flexible plastic, etc. NO SHARP EDGES and/or POINTS are allowed. Bokken and other wooden weapons ARE permitted.

GUNS:
NO REAL GUNS 
may be used as props at METROCON, regardless of being unloaded, stripped down, barrel filled, or any other precaution that could be taken. Prop or toy firearms – such as Airsoft and BB guns, NERF guns, etc. – will be permitted so long as they have an orange tip at the end of the barrel, and can be easily identified as such from a distance. Plastic prop or toy firearms are preferred – metal or wooden prop or toy firearms will inevitably receive more scrutiny from both Weapons Check and the METROCON Staff throughout the weekend. In any case, Weapons Check will make sure it is unloaded of any ammunition, as well as zip tie the trigger so that the prop or toy gun is incapable of firing. Airsoft or BB guns that are electrically or gas powered, must be discharged – i.e. no CO2 canister, no charged battery or no battery at all, etc. If at any time you are caught with a prop or toy firearm not meeting any of these requirements, you will be instructed to have it checked at Weapons Check. Multiple infractions can result in your weapon being confiscated or you being ejected from the convention. METROCON maintains a zero tolerance policy on discharging a projectile, even from an approved prop or weapon. Water pistol, NERF gun, airsoft – it does not matter – discharge it, and you will be removed. These rules apply to any prop or toy firearms purchased in the dealer’s room (see below). There will be police at the convention, so please act accordingly.

A note on Florida Law and Firearms

All patrons must adhere to Florida State Law at all times during the weekend of METROCON, including laws regarding firearms and weapons. If you can’t do it anywhere in Florida, don’t assume you can do it at METROCON. We will also defer to Tampa Convention Center policies as we are required to do so as temporary lessors of the premises, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the building general policies on the Tampa Convention Center website.

Purchasing props/weapons at the convention

If you purchase a weapon or prop from the Vendors Room that does not comply with the METROCON Weapons/Prop policy, you must either leave it boxed and taped, take it to your room or vehicle, or check the weapon at METROCON Stuff Check for a small fee. If it does meet the above Weapon and Props policy, when exiting the Vendors Room please go directly to Weapons Check. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 – go get your weapons and props approved!

NOTE: We will not be held liable for lost or stolen weapons checked at METROCON Stuff Check.

IN CLOSING, PLEASE NOTE that if you violate any of the above rules your weapon or prop WILL be confiscated or you will be removed from the convention. Our choice. If you are asked by a member of the METROCON staff, you are required to comply with their requests or risk removal from the convention. These decisions are based on the discretion of the staff member you are dealing with at that exact moment – if there was a prior interaction with a staff member, consider the fact that you have done something to warrant addressing the issue a second time.

The “Photo Op Exemption” Rule

During photo opportunities, or “photo ops”, CERTAIN policies will be given more leeway regarding costumes, props, and weapons. While posing for a picture, you may temporarily, during the photo op – allow another person to hold a leash you are wearing, remove your shoes because your character doesn’t wear them, put on your roller skates or blades because your character does wear them, etc.

This does not apply to weapons and props that have not been approved at Weapons Check. Safety, Public Exposure, Questionable Material, Signs/Banners, and any other Weapon/Prop policies must be adhered to even during photo ops.

General Conduct

It shouldn’t need to be said, but please use common sense when in public areas. A good general rule is: if you have to ask or think twice about whether or not you should do it in public, DON’T. Convention staff has the final authority on what is and is not acceptable in public areas, and may ask you to stop an activity, or take it elsewhere; compliance with these requests is mandatory. Repeat offenders may be required to hand over their badges and leave convention areas. Remember that you are a guest of both the convention center and the hotel you are staying in, and that there are other guests utilizing the same facilities – some of whom may not be in any way affiliated with the convention. Be courteous and do not disturb other guests with noise or activities inappropriate to the time and place. If the convention center staff request you to quiet down or stop a certain behavior, do so; if you do not, your badge will be confiscated. We’re all here to have a good time, so please act responsibly.

Badges/Wristbands and Replacement

METROCON convention badges/wristbands must be worn at all times. If you have no badge/wristband, you will not be granted admittance to the convention areas. If you lose your badge/wristband or find one, please notify Registration immediately. Replacement badges are NOT available for purchase or otherwise – you will be required to purchase another pass at full prices. We strongly recommend putting a unique name or identifier on your badge (we provide stickers and markers just for that at registration!) so that if it is lost and returned to Registration, we can reunite you with it.

Types of Staff at the Convention

TYPES OF CONVENTION STAFF:

  • STAFF: These are department heads and the people directly underneath them. Staff has the final authority on any decision regarding your behavior or any other policy.
  • SECURITY: If someone from Security tells you something, it’s for a very good reason. Please listen to them. They are here for your safety and the well-being of the entire convention.
  • SPECIAL GUESTS: People wearing a Special Guest badge are just that – guests of the convention. Notables in the Japanese animation or video game industry in some form or fashion, they’re one of the main reasons most people come to conventions. Treat them with politeness and respect.
  • VOLUNTEERS: By far the people you are most likely to encounter throughout the weekend, these are the people who are working in exchange for free registration and attendance to METROCON functions (when they’re not on the clock, of course). These are badge checkers and other stationed positions throughout the convention who have received direct instruction from the staff.
  • CAST: There are several shows and performances at the convention, and many of the performers are wearing official cast badges. These are some of the most knowledgeable people at the convention – feel free to ask them for help or assistance if you can not find a staff member or volunteer. Cast members may, on occasion, be acting as staff members or volunteers, so respect them as such.
  • PRESSMETROCON will have in attendance various members of the press. Many work for large TV networks or local newspapers, and others work for podcasts or anime magazines – if you can comply with their requests, try to do so in a polite manner. They’re just trying to do their job.
The Appeal Process with Staff

Our staff has been selected based on the knowledge they possess of their departments, and our trust in their judgment. If a STAFF member requests something of you, please comply. If you feel you are being treated unfairly, you may request to speak to their superior, however this is not always possible due to time constraints throughout the weekend, and will most likely result in the same answer you were originally given, in addition to time wasted that you could have spent enjoying the convention. We take complaints and disputes very seriously and we are always willing to hear out both sides of a story.

Animals

METROCON gladly complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. As such, trained animal assistants (“working animals”) are allowed in the public/function areas of the convention center and in the hotel. If you’ve never encountered a working animal before, please keep in mind that their owners have them to assist them in everyday life; they are not to be played with, called out to, or otherwise disturbed, as their primary function is to serve as guides. No other animals are permitted in the convention center at any time. According to Tampa Convention Center policy, if any animal (even service animals) becomes a safety or biological waste threat to the other inhabitants of the facility, the animal and its owner may be asked to leave the premises – this will be enforced by Tampa Convention Center security as necessary, and there is nothing we can do about their judgment on this policy.

Drinking

Federal and state laws prohibit serving alcohol to people under the age of 21. Underage drinking will not be tolerated and will result in your removal from the convention.  There is no drinking in public/function spaces, or in the convention area. It is likely that hotel security will be conducting spot checks to ensure compliance in the hotel rooms. If you drink, please drink responsibly, and do it in places that allow it. Public drunkenness will result in your being asked to leave the convention and not return. If you drink, don’t drive! Please have a designated driver. The Tampa Convention Center staff will be happy to call you a cab if you need one. There are plenty of bars and opportunities to drink, however the METROCON show floor itself (all badge-checked convention areas) are a DRY ZONE, meaning that no alcohol may be present in the convention areas, and if a patron is perceived to be under the influence, we may ask you to leave the convention area up to and sometimes including trespass and removal of badge.

Flyers and Advertising

Please do not post any flyers to the doors & walls of the convention center. They will be removed immediately if they are put up. Also, make sure your flyers stay within a PG-13 rating. If you wish to hand out flyers for your anime club, or other event, there will be a fan table available to place your flyers on, at the discretion of the Head of Registration.

Outside Food and Beverage

There is no food from outside sources allowed in the Tampa Convention Center. Only food purchased in the convention center is allowed on property.

Special Guests & Autographs

The special guests have taken time out of their busy schedules to join us, and attendees should, in turn, be considerate of their time while at the convention. All our guests love to mingle and chat, but how much they’ll be able to do this depends on you. Attendees will be able to gather autographs of the guests during specified times. Mob scenes and other unruly behavior will result in your removal from the convention. We want their stay at METROCON to be a positive one so that they will come back in the future and spread the positive experience of METROCON to others in the industry.

Food Items for Special Guest: 
Sometimes fans like to bring gifts or treats for their favorite voice actors or industry guests. All food gifts for guests must be store-packaged & first inspected by a liaison. No homemade food goods will be permitted as gifts.
Autographs: 
There is no charge for the first autograph on any item presented by the patron. The guest may charge for any additional autographs, voice recordings or photos, and may have headshots or other items for sale to have autographed at their signing.
Harassment and Assault

Harassment is generally any behavior that intentionally annoys or alarms another person. This includes any unwanted physical contact, following someone around a public area without a legitimate reason, or otherwise infringing on their personal liberties. Assault is legally defined as an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent; in the state of Florida assault is a 2nd Degree misdemeanor. Neither activity will be tolerated at METROCON. Please remember that if you approach someone and they tell you ‘no’ or to leave them alone, your business with them is done. If you do not leave them alone as they have requested, your actions may be grounds for a complaint of harassment. If you feel that you are being harassed, or you have been assaulted, please report the matter immediately to convention staff, security staff, or Tampa Police Department. Offenders will be required to leave the convention, and may be liable for criminal charges as well.  We recommend that all harassment be reported immediately.

Hotel Room Stuffing

Room stuffing is not allowed. The limit to standard hotel rooms is 4, except by the hotel’s permission, i.e. an infant. Do not sleep in the convention areas, halls, stairways, and other public spaces. Security will be performing random sweeps and will remove anyone caught abusing convention facilities in this manner.

Liability at METROCON

METROCON, its staff and its affiliates are not responsible for any loss, damage, theft, or injury occurring during the convention. Attendees are wholly responsible for their individual actions and any repercussions that may result. Staff is on hand for assistance in any situation, and will be glad to help in any way they can. Civil or medical emergencies will be handled by the appropriate agencies. Any lost parcels or unattended packages will be taken to the Tampa Convention Center Information Desk, on the second floor of the Tampa Convention Center. Questions regarding lost or misplaced items will be redirected to the building’s information desk as stated previously. See our program book for more information on Locker Rental, located at our Merchandise Booth just outside of Main Events, to avoid losing your personal belongings in the first place.

Merchandise and Shoplifting

Be sure to keep your receipts with your purchases at all times. We know things can get crowded and busy (especially in the dealers room), but please wait your turn and pay for the things that you buy. Shoplifting will not be tolerated, and will be handed over to the proper authority – shoplifters will be prosecuted at the discretion of the vendor or artist that was stolen from, and personal theft will be addressed and a police report will be created.

Room Parties

If you are hosting a room party, you — the person renting the room — are responsible for the legality and well being of your partygoers, as well as any damage or clean-up costs associated with it. Remember, hotel personnel are allowed to spot check your party and have the authority to shut it down. Keep it clean and keep it legal.

Counterfeit Badges

Recently, there has been an uptick in the number of counterfeit badges recovered every year at METROCON. This is largely due to more informed volunteers, badges with security features and constructed of materials that are more difficult to accurately duplicate including watermarks, UV reactive ink, holographic printing, and more. Counterfeit badges will absolutely not be tolerated – if you are caught with a counterfeit pass, regardless of where you acquired it or whether you made it or not, you will have your badge removed, and the Tampa Police Department will have you trespassed from the building. This is akin to scalping counterfeit tickets to a major sporting event, and your trespass from the building does not just apply to METROCON, but to the Tampa Convention Center as a whole – you will legally not be allowed to be on Tampa Convention Center property for one year from the date of the trespass. Combatting counterfeiting and piracy is something the City of Tampa takes very seriously, and so do we – we have a zero tolerance policy for these offenses. It is no different from stealing money from a register or robbing a house, and it is a crime – please consider the repercussions (including not being able to attend any events at the TCC for a whole year) before deciding that counterfeit passes are the way to go, and if buying passes from an individual and not directly from the METROCON registration, understand that you assume this risk. All passes purchased directly from METROCON should have a receipt or confirmation e-mail – make smart decisions when deciding how to attend METROCON.

Who hosts panels?

Anyone! While we have panels hosted by our Special Guests, METROCON also sports tons of panels hosted by volunteers and regular con-goers – like you! – every year. Visiting guest groups have also hosted panels on special topics.

How can I submit a panel?

If you would like to host your own panel, it’s real easy! Under the “Register” tab, there is a link to “Host a Panel”. There, you can submit the title, description, requested time slots and all of your information, and you’ll receive a notice on whether it is approved or denied by our Panel Staff.

Does it cost anything to host a panel?

If you’re asking if it costs anything to rent the room for the panel, then no. METROCON does not charge to host a panel. In fact, hosting a panel counts as volunteer hours. It takes six (6) hours of hosting panels to get your reimbursement, and when you have your 6 hours of panel hosting completed, then METROCON pays you (by giving you the cost of your badge back)! All participants in panels must have a METROCON pass to access the convention area.

Ok, I submitted my panel – what now?

Your panel will join a list of panels that our Panel Staff will go through and approve on a case-by-case basis. If our staff has any questions or concerns, they will contact you directly to work with you on getting your panel approved. Please be patient as it can take our staff a couple of weeks to get through all of the panels.

How do I know if my panel has been approved?

You will receive a confirmation email stating that your panel has been approved. Please check your junk mail, because sometimes spam filters like to eat panel e-mails since we send out a very high volume of them.

How does my panel get scheduled, and in what room?

When submitting your panel information, you’ll be prompted to submit a category and a preferred day/time. Our panel staff will do their best to place your panel on the schedule at your preferred time (Friday Afternoon, Saturday Late Night, Thursday Evening, etc. – they’re generalized) and in the tracked room that corresponds to the category of your panel.

Can my panel or event go in the Special Events or Main Events room on the big stage?

Whoa there partner! While we’re glad for your enthusiasm, we hate to inform you that the Special Events Ballroom is not available for panel placement. Only regular panel rooms will be on the option list when submitting and only METROCON Staff can place a panel/event into certain other rooms, such as the Special Events Ballroom, Guest Track, Video Rooms, and Main Events. Also, only certain events with specific criteria will be considered for the Special Events Ballroom. If you think your group or panel deserves to be in the Special Events or Main Events room, we’re certainly willing to hear you out and you should contact us, but we want to preface that the schedules for those rooms are usually very full of content we provide and our in-house shows.

What’s the minimum/maximum length of time a panel can run for?

All panels are one (1) hour in length minimum on paper. However, we ask that you be ready to only run 50 minutes in order to give that last 10 minutes for room changeover.

Panels are typically limited to this one (1) hour time limit, to incorporate variety in our panel schedule. Certain panels may get an exception to this rule. Please do not plan on running the same panel multiple times throughout the weekend – the schedule gets packed, and other people have panels they want to run as well.

Will my panel show up on the website and in the con guide?

We have a cutoff for the con guide printing, but all approved panels will display on the website in their designated room and time slot, and all approved panels that are scheduled by the cutoff date will be included in the printed convention guidebook.

Ready to join the fun?