WonderCon will move to Los Angeles in 2016

April 06, 2015 | 10:08 a.m.
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Attendees photograph a cosplayer dressed as Wonder Woman during WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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Cosplayers walk through the crowds during WonderCon in Anaheim. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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A cosplayer walks to WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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A crowd gathers to photograph cosplayer Wolverine during WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention Center, (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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A cosplayer dressed as Capt. Kirk pushes a baby carriage through the crowd during WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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A cosplayer dressed as the Hulk walks through the crowd during WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention center. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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Chloe Miller of Valencia waits in line at WonderCon 2015 in Anaheim. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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Cosplayers gather their registration materials while entering the Anaheim Convention Center on the first day of WonderCon 2015. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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Carter Stednitz, 8, as Star-Lord from "Guardians of the Galaxy" at WonderCon Anaheim 2015. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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Elizabeth Pinchevsky as Raven from the comic book and TV series "Teen Titans" at WonderCon Anaheim 2015. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

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Larry Munoz as Dark Link in the action game "The Legend of Zelda." (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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Harley Wettemann as the Joker at WonderCon Anaheim 2015. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

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Paul Forest, a.k.a. Spock Vegas, at WonderCon Anaheim 2015. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

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Chelsea Caracoza as Seras Victoria in the manga and anime series "Hellsing." (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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Jeremy Fisher as "Ren & Stimpy's" Powdered Toast Man at WonderCon Anaheim 2015. ( Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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Azul Weldon as Briska from the web comic "Homestuck" at WonderCon Anaheim 2015. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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Valentin Figueroa as comic book character Ghost Rider at WonderCon Anaheim 2015. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

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Katt McLaren as Majin Vegeta from "Dragon Ball Z" at WonderCon Anaheim 2015. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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Jeff Sutter in steampunk wear at WonderCon Anaheim 2015. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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A life-size replica of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man is held aloft by Huston Huddleston of the Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum at WonderCon Anaheim 2015. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

WonderCon, the smaller-but-no-less-fervent version of San Diego’s Comic-Con International, has announced that it will move closer to the Hollywood spotlight, relocating from Anaheim to the Los Angeles Convention Center in 2016.

“Los Angeles is honored to have been selected as the destination for WonderCon 2016,” read a statement from Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We look forward to establishing a long-term partnership with Comic-Con International, the presenter, and helping them establish a home-base in L.A. We anticipate the show to be highly attended and to set the precedent for future successful Comic-Con events in L.A.”

The Anaheim Convention Center is planning an expansion of their facilities with renovations to include: 200,000 square feet of space on two levels that can be used as exhibit, ballroom or meeting space; loading docks and 1,400 parking spots; and a climate-controlled pedestrian bridge connecting to the second floor of the existing facility and more. The work is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

The 2014 WonderCon pulled in 60,000 attendees at the Anaheim Convention Center, but L.A. also has its share of big fan-centric celebrations like the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) and the Anime Expo.  The ability to accommodate a growing number of people was a consideration when choosing a site, according to David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations for Comic-Con International.

“The big determining factors are really three things: exhibit floor space, meeting space and dates,” said Glanzer. “We really try to avoid being on top of another show, primarily because of exhibitors.

“The truth of the matter is that a lot of the convention centers on the West Coast are booked up, so it isn’t as easy as saying you want to go to X place or Y place.”

WonderCon began in the Bay Area in 1987 but has been held in Disneyland’s backyard since 2012. It serves as the unofficial kickoff for Southern California’s burgeoning convention season celebrating fandom and pop culture. This year’s lineup also includes mid-April’s Star Wars Celebration, Disney’s D23 Expo in August and Stan Lee’s Comikaze in the fall. D23 and the Star Wars Celebration will be in Anaheim; the WonderCon move follows Los Angeles’, and others, public courting of Comic-Con recently and a few years back.

“We’ve had a good relationship with the Los Angeles Convention Center and have been talking with them for years. They approached us several years back when they discovered our space challenges in San Diego. When we found that we had some space and date challenges for Anaheim in 2016, we started looking to see if any other places were available, and Los Angeles happened to have space and dates available,” says Glanzer.

“We’re accustomed to hosting large-scale, highly attended events here at the Los Angeles Convention Center and our neighboring L.A. Live Campus,” added Brad Gessner, AEG facilities senior vice president and general manager for the Los Angeles Convention Center, in the announcement. “Los Angeles is the second largest market in the country, positioned at the doorstep to Hollywood and offers unparalleled natural growth for WonderCon.”

UPDATE: 6:30 p.m.
This post has been updated with quotes from a Comic-Con representative and information about the Anaheim Convention Center’s construction plans.

— Jevon Phillips | @storiz@LATHeroComplex

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