The third Salt Lake City Con was held this weekend, and it was by all measures a success, becoming the largest convention in Utah, with a reported 120,000-130,000 people attending. This is up from the 72,000 that attended the first one a year ago and the 100,000 that attended the spring FanX sister event. Stan Lee also said it was the best comic con on earth, so there you go.
This number would, of course, put it in the midst of San Diego Comic-con, New York Comic Con, and Fan Expo Canada as one of the biggest conventions in North America. The growth was not without growing pains, as documented on the show’s Facebook page and in the news:
As was predicted, Saturday proved to be the busiest in Salt Lake Comic Con history, with a line that wrapped around the entire Salt Palace by the 10 a.m. opening.
“The other two days I was in line for an hour and Thursday in line for three hours,” said Layton resident Ryan Bielik.
Convention goers logged serious hours in line Saturday, but what’s a few hours in line when you spent days working on your costume?
According to another report, 100,000 people attended on Saturday alone, leading them to shut down ticket sales, and the fire marshals to briefly step in:
The three-day event was bigger and better than before. Records were broken Saturday as more than 100,000 convention-goers attended the second annual Salt Lake Comic Con, according to event organizers.
Dan Farr, Salt Lake Comic Con founder, said the event had some hiccups.
“Not everything worked perfectly,” he said. “We had a few challenges getting everyone in on the first day because it was much larger than we anticipated.”
Dan Farr said VIP passes sold out a week in advance, and even pre-registration numbers didn’t prepare them for the onslaught of visitors who just showed up to buy day-of tickets.
“We sold out,” Farr said. “We had full capacity in the building for the current set up. We had, from everybody I talked to ,everyone had a great time.”
Without doubting for a minute the excitement and growing audience for this show, many industry observers have expressed doubts over the numbers that SLC Comic Con organizers have been claiming for attendance. Founder Dan Farr explained in a previous email to me that for FanX, children’s attendance was an estimate only. In addition, I’m told that
for past shows, tickets given to retailers as promotional giveaways were counted as part of the overall attendance numbers, whether anyone used them or not. UPDATE: SLCC’s Chief Marketing Officer and co-founder Bryan Brandenburg denied this in an email to me.
So how many people were there? Not being on the scene, I can’t tell you, but lets look at some numbers.
First off, here’s some pictures of the show.
The population of Salt Lake City is 189,314. Of course, conventions draw from the outlying metropolitan area, which in SLC’s case is 968,858 according to the 2000 Census. Utah’s population is 2,900,872. By that metric, nearly 1 in 20 Utahans attended the con this weekend.
What about the convention facility, the Salt Palace Convention Center? You can see all the specs for the exhibit halls here. Some of the capacity numbers are misleadingly low however, since they refer to seating capacity.
But according to this convention center information site , the SPCC’s mazimum capacity is 82,052 people. So if 100,000 people did attend in a single day, there were some serious crowding issues.
For comparison’s sake, SPCC has 679,000 sq ft of exhibit and meeting space. The San Diego Convention Center has 615,700 sq ft of exhibit space (that’s halls A-H), a total area of 2,600,000 sq ft and a capacity of 125,000.
Did you go to Salt Lake City Comic Con? Did you have a great time? Do you think there were 100,000 people there? Let us know in the comments.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.