as told by Glen S. Friedman
It was the early fall of 1994 and I, Glen Friedman, along with Brian David-Marshall, was working at the 32nd Street location of Jim Hanley's Universe, a chain of comic book stores in New York. One of our customers, Tony Parodi, who was playing Magic regularly, had made a regular habit of coming into the store during his lunch break to meet other Magic players to trade cards.
Tony had formed a group of Magic players who would meet in the food court of A&S Plaza, a mall across the street from the comic book store. In fact, during the summer, Tony had organized "the gathering," an impromptu get together of around 50 Magic players who met at the South Street Seaport to play Magic one afternoon.
As Brian & I became friendly with Tony, he suggested the idea of organizing a major Magic tournament in the city with a big prize. After several discussions, the three of us decided to do it. Since I had never played Magic, my role was to secure the hotel space, rent a mailbox and telephone number for our company, the newly created NY Magic, and make a flyer for the tournament.
Tony decided the prize was to be a complete set of Arabian Nights, worth around $500.00 at the time. We bought the set online and with that, created the flyer and spread the word. In October 1994, we ventured out to Staten Island to attend another tournament, this one run by Paul Gerardi, to hand out flyers.
As word of mouth spread, we started receiving pre-registrations in the mail. The cost to enter was $10 pre-registration or $14 at the door. Oh yeah, the event was all Type 1 (there was no Type 2 at the time) and all single-elimination.
We had around 50 pre-reg for the show, but still had no idea how many people would show up. On November 12th, 1994 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York, 212 people attended the first NY Magic event. Each of us made a few hundred dollars profit after all expenses. We were on to something.
Our second event, in January 1995 had over 500 attendees and then in February, we had over 700.
In early 1995, another employee of Jim Hanley's Universe, our friend, Jim Pernicone, decided to organize a New Jersey tournament. So, with his friend Ted Formezza, they formed East Coast Magic and began running shows in Edison, NJ.
It wasn't until 1996 that NY Magic and East Coast Magic merged to form Gray Matter Conventions. The rest is history.
Gray Matter Conventions was also the first organizer to run a Qualifier event for the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour.
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