There have been rumblings for quite a while now that Comic-Con might leave San Diego, the city it has called home for over 40 years. With the recent boom in popularity and increasing mainstream appeal of comics, attendance has grown by leaps and bounds every year. The huge crowds have overwhelmed the convention center’s ability to hold them, resulting in lines several hours long and capped ticket sales. With the con’s governing board set to decide on the future direction in the next month or so, the rumors have heated up considerably and San Diego seems to be getting worried.
A recent article in San Diego’s Union-Tribune spotlights efforts by the city to keep the annual convention and its 125,000 attendees. Hotels have agreed to donate hundreds of thousands of square feet of meeting space to handle overflow events from the convention center. Proposals are in the works to double the number of discounted hotel rooms available to con-goers (hooray!). Perhaps most importantly, a sizable expansion of the convention center itself was approved by a citizen’s commission last year. However, funding for the expansion remains an unanswered question and even if construction began immediately, it would be years before the expansion finished.
If things don’t work out between San Diego and Comic-con, the most frequently named new destinations are Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Anaheim, which appears to be the leading suitor. Thanks to the massive tourism lure of Disneyland, Anaheim has no shortage of relatively inexpensive hotel rooms and the convention center there is much larger than San Diego’s. Another potential strength is that Anaheim is closer to the movie and television studios that have become an increasingly larger and important presence at the con.
It would be a shame if the convention was lured away from San Diego just to make it more convenient for Hollywood to attend. But as it stands now that appears to be a distinct possibility. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that San Diego and the con can come to an accommodation that makes everyone happy, the city, Comic-Con AND the fans.