The OC Register ran an editorial on Monday lending its support for the huge and influential Comic-Con re-locating from his its San Diego birthplace to Anaheim:
Simply put, the convention, now a marketing bonanza for science-fiction and fantasy films, TV shows, video games and other pop-culture media, looks forward to an unknown future, it has grown too large for the venue it has called home since nearly its inception and if the organizers wish to grow any further they will have to spread out to larger accommodations or hang up their capes in Southern California.
It is the same predicament Comic-Con faced in 2010 when the event had to cap attendance at 130,000 because of the limited space the 550,000-square-foot San Diego Convention Center could offer. But a last-minute offer from downtown San Diego hoteliers to provide 300,000 square feet of free space and a multiyear, more than $300,000 a year, convention center discount was enough to lock in the organizers until 2016, as reported by the U-T San Diego.
But, as the Coastal Commission drags its feet on a proposed expansion of the San Diego Convention Center over concerns of rising sea levels, the nonprofit Comic-Con International clearly has to keep other options open if organizers wish to grow and maintain the ties to its Southern California origin story.
The Anaheim Convention Center, which has 815,000 square-feet of convention space, submitted a proposal during the 2010 negotiations to bring Comic-Con to Orange County and remains a viable alternative as it continues to offer a host of advantages beyond the obvious one of size.
At the time, Anaheim officials told the Register that the site, located directly across the street from the Disneyland Resort, offered patrons more affordable hotel rooms and more rooms within walking distance of the Convention Center. In all, it was estimated that the deal could net those Anaheim hotels and nearby restaurants $40 million to $50 million in revenue over the four-day event.
Also, Anaheim’s closer proximity to the Hollywood-based movie studios and the major television networks in the Los Angeles area make it a desirable, more central location in Southern California.
You can read the entire editorial here.
The effort or desire to lure Comic-Con to Anaheim also underscore’s the why City hall continues to invest in the expansion of the Convention Center. The current expansion plan budgets $180 million to add 200,000 square feet of flexible exhibit/meeting space that can provide 100,000 square feet of ballroom space, 200,000 square feet of breakout space, or 200,000 square feet of exhibit space. The purpose of the expansion is to attract larger tradeshows and conventions and acquire the capacity to host concurrent events.
Anaheim’s opportunity to capture Comic-Con stems in the main from having a bigger and better convention center. It has a superior capacity to accommodate Comic-Con’s size and popularity — capacity that expansion plans will only augment further.
The San Diego v. Anaheim discussion emphasizes the reality that the convention industry is not static. Cities around the country are continually investing in enlarging and enhancing their convention facilities in order to poach business from other cities. While Anaheim looks to bring Comic-Con to town, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and other major convention destinations are working just as hard to lure Anaheim’s convention business to their cities. Unless Anaheim expands its convention center, it could find itself in a similar situation vis-a-vis some of its own marquee events, and that ultimately has a negative downstream effect on the many businesses and their employees who depend upon a thriving convention business.