Is Comic-Con Getting Ready to Leave San Diego?
Comic-Con International has been taking place in San Diego since it was launched as the Golden State Comic Book Convention back in 1970. San Diego is part of Comic-Con, and Comic-Con is part of San Diego. At least it was? As the current deal between Comic-Con and San Diego is set to expire next year, the convention could be looking elsewhere for a new home—one with more space—and both Los Angeles and Anaheim are making a push to steal away the biggest pop culture gathering in the world.
As Comic-Con looks at the prospect of signing a new deal with the City of San Diego (which would keep them there through 2018), they're also exploring their options. One of those includes Anaheim, which offers the largest exhibit hall space in Southern California at 815,000 square feet (almost 200,000 more than the 615,700 sq ft at the San Diego Convention Center). In addition, they've begun construction on an additional 200,000 sq ft to the convention center, and recently launched a $2.5 million upgrade to their Wi-Fi infrastructure (something longtime Comic-Con attendees will be cheering).
Hollywood would love to have Comic-Con in Los Angeles (it would certainly make their commute a lot easier), and can now promote L.A. Live, the entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles, as its neighbor. (One downside, Los Angeles would actually decrease the amount of hotel rooms within walking distance by about 6,000.)
Said David Glanzer, a spokesman for Comic-Con International of the competing pitches:
The proposals we've received are pretty amazing. It's not an easy decision.
Keeping Comic-Con in San Diego should've been a no-brainer. After the last contract extension, the city promised a 225,000 sq ft expansion to the Convention Center, but a state appeals court ruled against the financing plan last summer. Further complicating matters are plans by the San Diego Chargers to move their stadium to the downtown area in an effort to prevent the team from moving to Los Angeles.
All this said, Steven Johnson, a spokesman for the San Diego Convention Center Corp. told the Los Angeles Times, “Attendees have grown to love San Diego as a destination.”
And that, ultimately, will be what keeps Comic-Con in San Diego. While it's easy to be tempted elsewhere, San Diego is so much a part of Comic-Con's lifeblood, that it doesn't feel right at all for it to move. It's one of the few pleasant parts of actually attending Comic-Con, when so much of the show can feel like a logistical nightmare. If you're going to wait on an endless line just to see some footage from an upcoming movie or the cast of your favorite TV show, it might as well be in a place where the weather is always beautiful?
Yes, Comic-Con needs more space. Yes, Comic-Con needs more hotels, and lots of them. But those are items that hopefully can be rectified in San Diego. And, if they can't, we'll all be traveling elsewhere come July.