Comic-Con International to remain in San Diego through 2016

Oct. 29, 2012 | 2:08 p.m.
comic con Comic Con International to remain in San Diego through 2016

John Welch of Hollywood in costume at Comic-Con International 2010. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

San Diego has won a skirmish in its war with Los Angeles and Anaheim to retain Comic-Con International, but the outcome of the tri-city battle over tourism dollars remains in doubt.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, down to his final weeks in office, announced Monday that Comic-Con organizers have agreed to extend their contract to use the waterfront convention center by one year, to 2016, meaning that superheroes, villains, cyborgs and stormtroopers from around the globe will flock to the city for at least four more conventions, Sanders announced.

Comic-Con turns San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, adjacent to the convention center, “into a kind of high-tech ‘Twilight Zone,’ with some of the best people-watching you’ll ever see,” Sanders said at a triumphant news conference attended by city officials and Comic-Con organizers.

Los Angeles and Anaheim, with larger convention centers than San Diego, made major pitches in 2010 to lure Comic-Con away from its ancestral home in San Diego. By extending the contract to 2016, San Diego gains an extra year for its convention center expansion project.

PHOTOS: Scene at Comic-Con 2012

This year the 130,000-plus attendees put $68 million into the San Diego economy.

Keeping Comic-Con has been a priority for Sanders, now finishing his second term. Both candidates to be his successor, Rep. Bob Filner and Councilman Carl DeMaio, have made retaining Comic-Con a campaign issue.

City officials have approved a $520-million expansion of the convention center to keep Comic-Con and other big-ticket conventions from departing.

But the plan is in court, where its controversial financing plan is being tested. The plan allowed local hoteliers, rather than voters, to decide whether to increase the room tax to gather funds for a convention center expansion; under the plan, the hoteliers get a slice of the revenue for promotional purposes, a novel and legally questionable tactic.

Additionally, the plan would need to win approval from the California Coastal Commission, which can be a lengthy process.

Since its beginning in 1970 in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel as a comic book celebration, Comic-Con has grown exponentially in attendance and cultural reach. In recent years, fans have grumbled about overcrowding and the speed at which the confab sells out.

As a stop-gap measure, organizers have arranged space at nearby hotels but have encouraged expansion of the convention center.

The 2013 edition is set to take place July 18-21.

— Tony Perry, in San Diego

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13 Responses to Comic-Con International to remain in San Diego through 2016

  1. RawHeadRex says:

    I wonder if they only extended it by one year since the DTLA stadium and convention center was pushed back by that same amount of time? I'm predicting they move to LA once construction is complete.

  2. helenart1701 says:

    It wouldn't be the same if it left San Diego.

  3. Richard says:

    It would be nice to see it get back to being a COMIC convention, not a Hollywood venue for plugging the latest movies.

  4. Jaguar says:

    Having been to an event at the LA Convention Centre recently, I can say that if Comic Con was half its current size, it still wouldn't fit there, and with little parking, food service, or hotel rooms nearby, it's nowhere as nice as the Gaslamp Quarter. And the "Larger LA Convention Centre?" Pretty odd, since LA is about 60% the size of San Diego. The only facility large enough & versatile is Las Vegas – but costumers in the July valley heat? No better place than San Diego!

  5. Trish says:

    It can't leave San Diego. Anaheim and LA might have larger venues, but the transportation and hotel situation is a nightmare up there! San Diego is an "end" destination. All roads lead to the convention center and the location on the waterfront and nightlife in the Gaslamp cannot be matched up North. The community embraces attendees and it feels safe! I'm a local and have been attending for 10 years. This is where SDCC needs to stay!

  6. Mark says:

    Comic Con belongs in San Diego! Rather than spend millions of dollars to expand the San Diego Convention Center, the simple solution is to expand the duration of Comic Con. Rather than a four day event, make it a nine day event with two weekends. That would give more people the opportunity to have the Comic Con experience. The restaurants and hotels would more than double the days of the super great business that they have during this annual event. As it is now, every hotel room in the county is booked up for the current four day event. The local restaurants are maxed out and parking anywhere in the area is completely full. Having more days of Comic Con would spread the large crowds out and take away the feeding frenzy mentality of buying tickets.

    • Jaguar says:

      That's been suggested several times before – people want to hit all (or a lot of) panels – and the con wouldn't have the exact same panels each time (really can't schedule participants to do each twice). If the con was nothing but a dealer's room (see Creation Con), it would work, but not Comic Con as it is now.

  7. Nicole says:

    Just pointing out something that needs clarifying: the legally questionable tactic should refer to whether the hoteliers are allowed to decide whether to tax themselves or whether it should be brought up for a general election vote. It is not legally questionable for hotels to assess themselves for promotional purposes. These assessments currently do exist and fund many visitors bureaus across the United States.

    "The plan allowed local hoteliers, rather than voters, to decide whether to increase the room tax to gather funds for a convention center expansion; under the plan, the hoteliers get a slice of the revenue for promotional purposes, a novel and legally questionable tactic."

    And my vote is for Comic Con in Anaheim, but only because it would make it easier for me to attend. I agree Anaheim doesn't have the housing and walkable entertainment that SD does. I'm just hoping Wondercon stays in Anaheim. At least it's smaller and more manageable and just as fun.

  8. richard smith says:

    cimic con should go to las vegas… has the rooms and the space to more than handle the crowd and events that will be the greatest ever….

  9. sai says:

    So where is it going to be?

  10. Michelle herold says:

    I’ve been to the LA. Convention center as well as the Anaheim. They are too small. Not enough rooms or restaurants. Las Vegas may be big enough but the summer heat would kill the costumers. May not sound like much but this is a big deal for the fans. San Diego is and has always been perfect. Expand!

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