Will Comic-Con Leave San Diego for Anaheim?

A freshly-posted Los Angeles Times story examines whether the world-famous Comic-Con Convention will leave San Diego (it’s home for 40 years) for Anaheim or Los Angeles, which are aggressively wooing the giant show that draws 130,000 attendees every year. San Diego’s planned convention center expansion has been on since a court decision last summer knocking the legs out of the city’s plan for financing the $520 million expansion, which would add 225,000 square feet of exhibit space, 101,000 square feet of meeting space and an 80,000-square-foot ballroom:

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has vowed to find another way to finance the expansion.

Still, Faulconer faces another problem. The San Diego Chargers are pushing to have a new stadium built several blocks from the existing convention center, in a combined stadium and convention center expansion site. Without a new stadium, the Chargers might move to Los Angeles.

But the politically powerful hotel industry opposes the Chargers plan for a combination facility. In the past, Comic-Con officials have sided with the hoteliers in favoring an expansion that is contiguous, not several blocks away.

San Diego convention officials are not yet panicking.

“I don’t think any of the venues that are trying to compete for Comic-Con are going to offer anything as good as San Diego,” said Steven Johnson, a spokesman for the San Diego Convention Center Corp. “Attendees have grown to love San Diego as a destination.”

Although Comic-Con never made the expansion a condition for staying in San Diego, Johnson said it would have given the city more leverage.

“If we had an expansion, we would be sitting in a much more comfortable position,” he said.

You can read the entire article here.

It’s a good thing four members of the Anaheim City Council last year approved a 200,000 square foot expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center, which is due to break ground early this year. It puts the Anaheim/OC Visitor and Convention Bureau in an even stronger position to woo Comic-Con – along with the 60,960 room nights and $177.8 million it generates for the local economy — to Anaheim.

If Anaheim does land Comic-Con, it will be no thanks to the misnamed CATER, which has done its best to put the kibosh on the Convention Center expansion by killing its financing. As readers know, CATER (along with liberal trial attorney Cory Briggs and his Inland Oversight Committee front group) has been losing that legal battle with the city.

Furthermore, the impending defeat of the OCCORD/Cory Briggs lawsuit against the city’s economic assistance agreement with the GardenWalk Hotels will clear the way for the construction of those luxury hotels, which makes Anaheim an even more attractive location for Comic-Con.

This is the Anaheim Way that has been working for the city for many decades now – and notwithstanding the efforts of some local wreckers who want to toss that successful tradition of public-private partnerships out the window – it will continue to be a formula for economic growth and development in Anaheim.

One comment

  1. Matt –I still don’t see ComicCon leaving San Diego for a number of reasons; Anaheim lacks the nearby Gaslamp district with tons of restaurants, hotels and bars that make it that much easier for attendees to spill out to during the convention and after hours. I still don’t think there’s adequate parking for ComicCon and Disneyland attendees. Los Angeles, with the venues near the convention center and more plentiful parking, make for a better choice IF ComicCon were to move. Additionally, the number of attendees is something like 150,000 per day from Thursday through Sunday (not everyone gets a 4-day pass) with Saturday and Friday being the most popular days.

    An expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center can accommodate ComicCon but there would need to be additional development around the Anaheim site that could be the difference between landing the show or not. Anaheim already hosts WonderCon in April; they show “temporarily” moved to Anaheim from Moscone while Moscone in SF was undergoing a remodel; the attendance was so good, the organizers stayed with Anaheim. Tickets just went on sale for that even so you better move fast.

    Should Anaheim land ComicCon, it could be the start of something big with other name conventions. If Disney were to weigh in on moving the conference to Anaheim, that would be a tough draw. ComicCon remains the nation’s premiere pop culture venue. The economic impact of ComicCon on San Diego is about $178 million a year — roughly $1400 per attendee. Imagine that in Anaheim.

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