For years, San Diego has faced the twin threats of losing both the Chargers and Comic-Con if a convention center expansion and/or a new stadium were publicly funded. Neither imitative has come to pass and the Chargers packed up and moved to LA. However, the Comic-Con International is staying in San Diego at least for the next four years.
As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, the city of San Diego and Comic-Con organizers have reached a deal that will keep the con in town through 2021. The previous expansion would have expired after 2018. According to the story, the key to Comic-Con’s latest extension was an agreement by local hotels to cap the exorbitant rates that they charge during the annual events. Despite some derision from locals, Comic-Con is one of the major tourism events of the year and a major source of revenue for San Diego hotels, restaurants, and stores. The estimated annual attendance is 130,000, but that number only includes paid attendees. The actual number may be far greater.
At the news conference to announce the deal, Comic-Con’s David Glanzer said “We have had to cap our attendance for many, many years so our income level is different and we have to be aware of that. But again, with the efforts of the mayor, the Tourism Authority, the hoteliers, we’re able to make what we have work.”
Glanzer didn’t pass up the opportunity to keep the threat of Comic-Con’s departure alive. “We’ve made it very, very clear we would love to stay here, but the truth of the matter is we have operated shows in Oakland, in San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and in Anaheim. If the worst thing were to happen, and that is we had to leave, we all can still live in San Diego and the convention can be in another city. That’s not what we want. And I’m glad we’re calling San Diego home for another three years.”
Here’s why that probably won’t happen any time soon. The Los Angeles Convention Center recently had trouble handling the estimated 68,400 attendees. If that was a problem, then handling a crowd twice that size would’t be a good idea. The Anaheim Convention Center may be better suited for a Comic-Con-like event, but WonderCon is not the same size and competing with Disneyland tourists for hotels is also a terrible idea. As for Las Vegas, it could easily handle the size of Comic-Con’s crowds and their are amble hotels. However, it’s also insanely hit in Vegas during the summer, and the city doesn’t exactly fit in with Comic-Con’s family friendly event.
That doesn’t mean that Comic-Con doesn’t have leverage to hold over San Diego. And to be frank, a convention center expansion is long overdue. Many fans have been shut out of Comic-Con in recent years due to the rising hotel costs and because getting a ticket or a four-day pass has become very difficult. An expansion may not solve those problems, but it would at least be a start.
What did you think will be the future of Comic-Con in San Diego? Let us know in the comment section below!