By Nicholas Eskey
As the world’s largest comic convention, one that celebrates all forms of popular culture in film, television, video games and of course print, San Diego Comic-Con is also well known also for its grand physical scale. You’d be hard pressed to find a corner of downtown that isn’t affected by it. This partly is due to the Convention Center being unable to house all that is Comic-Con now. Though much of the events throughout downtown have nothing to do with Comic-Con International directly, they still cater to con goers and have a great economic impact on the city.
This is where the expansion of the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina comes into play. This one hundred and seven-million-dollar project, which began construction in December of 2014 with its development almost spanning two years, offers much to downtown. It’s easy to see where all the money went to. The large structure is beautifully made, featuring clean-curvy-lines that complement the nearby waters of the bay. To impart on this expansion’s importance, an official ribbon cutting was held yesterday, with the Marriott International’s General Manager Tuni Kyi, San Diego representative on the Board of Port Commissioners Marshall Merrifield, and Mayor of San Diego Kevin Faulconer in attendance.
Tuni Kyi welcomed the collected crowd to “Marina Wharf Downtown San Diego’s Window to the Bay.” What a mouthful. This is in reference to the added feature in the Marriott’s expansion. A direct walkway connects downtown San Diego to the wharf, all complete with wonderful public art and the beautiful view over the water. The General Manager also commented that this expansion project “will ultimately allow people to feed their families” with the jobs it will create and that the construction alone created 800 new jobs over the last 2 years. Mayor Kevin Faulconer spoke of how this expansion will be an incredible capital investment, with tourism driving our economy, and using examples such as “Comic-con, All-Star game, and other great events.” Marshall Merrifield in his turn said, “Welcome to your water front.”
After the three men ceremoniously cut the red ribbon with the traditional large scissors, the collected crowd entered the ballroom. Just as the outside, the interior was equally as impressive, both in design and size. The motif plays off of the waterfront, and is carried all throughout the wing. Aside from special events, it is noteworthy to add that the Marriott will be helping Comic-Con this year in a big way. In fact, one of the Marriott’s managers remarked that the hotel, as well as the nearby Hilton and Hyatt, will reportedly house the badge processing this year in an effort to utilize more convention space.
Regretfully, the Marriott cannot comment on the deals that will be extended to Comic-Con goers as this involves other customer and vendors’ information. But another Manager, Steve Pagano, was able to comment on the changes that the hotel will undersee in order to cater to the crowds of next month’s convention. “We’ve noticed that pizza is a big seller for them. We’ve been managing 800 pizzas made during Comic-Con, which we weren’t able to do in the first year because we just weren’t prepared for it.” Such other accommodations will be more food vendors, such as a pop up sushi bar and a quick snacks cart, extra storage space for those staying in the hotel to handle all the collectibles they’ll be buying, the hiring of extra valet attendants, and extra bar areas for those who want to escape the convention for a while. “There’s no other group like Comic-Con all year,” he added.”
Though this expansion of the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina will offer more for convention attendees, whether you are staying in the hotel or not, but will ultimately have a long lasting effect on San Diego’s economy. Now if we can somehow get the convention center expanded, then maybe we all can enjoy the hotel’s expansion even more.