It seem like this derailed a bit anyway, but seems the right place to ask/comment...
It is really only 1500 people? That's tiny, really. We had 2000 Geocachers in Kendallville, IN, two years ago. Look the town up. Certainly not San Diego or Minneapolis. Sure, half of them camped at our venue, but I would think that homebrewing and Geocaching would have the same size of base if not more to the homebrewers.
So you're looking at 900 rooms and meeting space for 2k or a bit more? I'd think it's just too small to be a huge mark on a city's calendar. For NHC regional judging in Indy, we were priced out of hotels due to the Firefighters bringing 35,000 to town.
Has the AHA considered moving to a 2 year planning cycle or more? It makes facility concerns much easier to deal with. Take it from someone who had an event for 50 mushroom to 450 the first year, then 800, then 1300 and 2000.
Shoot, if we had more breweries in the area, I'd offer up my town.