Well it’s seems the Salt Lake City con hits its goal with 100,00 attendees, according to a press release. That would make it the third biggest show in the US. Show Runner Dan Farr is very bullish on the show:
“I still feel really strongly that we haven’t even tapped but a small percentage of the potential market of attendees that would have a good time here,” he said. “People can see ads or they can see messages on Facebook or they can see billboards or whatever it may be, but until they really experience it, you have a hard time really knowing what an event is like. Once you have more people experience it, they’re going to tell more of their friends … what they missed out on.”
Salt City’s first con was held last fall, and this was a second show on the schedule. The next one in September will add even more space and expand to the rest of the downtown area. The event had a big focus on nerdlebirties—Star Trek, Nathan Fillion, Karl Urban—and it seems to have delivered a great experience for fans.
Last year’s show has a lot of crowding and fire marshall problems, but those were solved this time out:
Greg Gage, who manned the booth for his Sugar House store, Black Cat Comics, loved seeing how happy everyone was. He remembers how, during the first Salt Lake Comic Con, some people had to wait three hours to get into the building, and were met with discouragingly dense crowds once they did.
But this year, the organizers doubled the floor space and, as far as Gage saw, managed the lines much better this time compared to last.
“People could move in and out, there were no traffic jams of cattle like in September,” Gage said. “They came in and were a little more ready to have fun.”
Last year’s event drew either 50,000 or 80,000—both numbers were reported—so this is a big leap> and yes, I heard from a few folks who thought the 100K number was a bit inflated. I reached out to Farr to find out how they counted attendees, and will report any response. Some shows count one ticket as one person, some one ticket on one day as a person, so it varies.
But…what ya gonna do? There isn’t a Better Business Bureau to monitor comic-cons. Inflated attendance has been part of the game for a long time, and with cons becoming big business, numbers are going to get more spectacular…and with that should come greater scrutiny. Looking at the above video and photos of the show it certainly looks crowded and fun, but not necessarily 100,000 strong. I don’t mean to throw shade on what was obviously a good time for everybody, but I’ve talked to many many show runners and been to many many cons. I’ve been talking to the SD folks and the ReedPOP people for years, and the show growth they’ve gradually reported seemed to jibe with what people experienced on the ground.
However many people attended the show, it’s clear that Salt Lake City is a great market for a comic-con.
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.