Comic-Con International has yet to sign a contract for 2017 and 2018, and it looks uncertain whether America’s Finest City™ can convince CCI to remain in San Diego.
With an expansion of San Diego’s convention center stalled, other Southern California convention center operators are making a play to lure away that city’s biggest and most profitable convention.
Organizers of the annual gathering of more than 130,000 comic book and pop culture fans are now considering suitors, including Los Angeles and Anaheim, as they weigh the option of signing a contract to stay in San Diego after Comic-Con’s convention next year or finding a new home.
“The proposals we’ve received are pretty amazing,” said David Glanzer, a spokesman for Comic-Con International. “It’s not an easy decision.”
- The San Diego Chargers want a new stadium/convention center to be built nearby, but the Hotel owners favor a contiguous space. (Although, plenty of people walk over to Petco to take part in that comic-carnival.) If the Chargers don’t get their way, they may move to Los Angeles. (Yeah… good luck with that.)
- Financing the $520 Million was derailed when the state appeals court struck down the taxation scheme created to fund the expansion.
- The agreement with the hotels to provide event space for free and lock in hotel rates (which can be pricey, if you can reserve one) has been extended to 2018.
- CCI gets a discount rate on convention center rental. In 2014, they paid $188,925, discounted from $479,535.
- Anaheim, the largest convention center on the West Coast, is starting its seventh expansion of their convention center, building a 200,000 square foot addition on the parking lot north of the Hilton Hotel. It’s scheduled for completion in 2017. Meanwhile, the rest of the center is available, and WonderCon has been there since 2012. (Although, financing might be subject to a legal challenge.)
- Nine new hotels have been built or are being constructed near the ACC, adding 1500 new rooms to the 13,000 already nearby.
- The reason for the expansion? Trade shows are threatening to leave for larger spaces! (NAMM arrives next week. WonderCon will be there in early April, and will use the entire building?)
My point of view?
I attended the American Library Association annual conference in Anaheim in 2012. They use a lot of conference space for committee meetings, which limits them to locales with large convention centers and numerous hotels. (They held a winter conference in San Diego in January 2011.)
I stayed in a motel near the interstate, a twenty-minute walk to the convention center. The weather was nice for late June. Sometimes I took a shuttle bus, most times I walked, as Anaheim is very flat. There is Anaheim Resort Transit which offers trolley buses around the area, as well the expected convention shuttles.
Could Comic-Con work in Anaheim? I think so. Would fans have to compete with Disneyland for hotel rooms? Possibly, although I had no trouble booking a room. How much of Disney’s attendance is regional, and how much is transient? (Don’t forget… there are three Disney hotels on site, and many more north of the park. Families can also plan their vacations around Comic-Con, if hotel rooms are scarce.) (Have people attending WonderCon had any trouble booking hotels?) (What about NAMM?) (Oh… and it’s not a major holiday, like the surge seen during Winter Break.)
Does Anaheim lack the ambience of Old Town? Sure. But thanks to Disney, there are numerous eateries nearby at a wide range of budgets. (My fave: Star Burger, a korean burger joint!) And let’s face it… Downtown Disney is better than Horton Plaza!
The convention center? Bigger and easier to move around in. It’s not as long (four halls instead of eight), so you’re not walking as far to get somewhere. (A fifth exhibition hall is located underneath the main floor, and the expansion pictured above will connect via a pedestrian bridge.) The two upper levels of meeting space are easy to access, and have roomy pre-function space. There’s an attached arena for 8,700 spectators. The biggest Hall, D, can seat 15,000 in a theater configuration, and use Hall E below as a holding pen! San Diego’s Hall H? 6,130.
CCI already uses the facility for WonderCon, and this year (the fourth in Anaheim) seems to have rented the entire building. Thus they have local experience. Attendance is in the neighborhood of 50,000, but that can change rapidly, especially in the current climate of media shows, and it being one of the first big shows of the year.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it does move. I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t. San Diego doesn’t want CCI to leave, as evidenced by the current Mayor and hotels eager to please. CCI could stay through 2018, use Anaheim as a backup plan, and ankle if the expansion funding isn’t solved by then. CCI could flip the two shows… WonderCon in SD in April, CCI in Anaheim in July. Maybe a third show in LA, just to test the waters.