Suck it, gastroentologists! Comic-Con does SO make lots of money for the city of San Diego! At long last an in-depth survey has shown what most long suspected: the San Diego Comic-Con is a cash cow for the local economy.
While the con’s own internal estimates have the economic impact of the 130,000+ fans who attend Comic-Con every year at more than $50 million, official estimates by the local convention bureau had the show’s fiscal impact much lower — $32 million in 2008. However, an actual survey of con attendees in 2008 has revealed the stunning truth: the con brings in $163 million a year, QUADRUPLE what was thought.
And that’s STILL NOT ALL:
While economic impact analyses are sometimes regarded as overly inflated guesses of spending, corporation officials point out that their latest estimates likely understate Comic-Con’s impact because they do not take into account money spent by the roughly 50 percent of attendees the survey found do not stay in hotels.
In all, Comic-Con in 2008 attracted more than 134,000 people, of whom nearly 68,000 spent the night in a hotel room, according to the survey, conducted by San Diego-based CIC Research. Spending alone on lodging, meals, transportation and other related items totaled $67.8 million, which includes $25 million in revenue rung up by conventioneers occupying nearly 31,000 hotel rooms.
While this huge amount will come as no surprise to anyone who actually tried to get a hotel room or buy a turkey burger during the show, the methodology was such that even the biggest skeptics on the San Diego city side of things will have a hard time dismissing Comic-Con as a huge revenue generator for the city.
But still not the largest: a fall confab of 36,000 neuroscientists brings in an estimated $170 million to the local economy — or $4722 per attendee. HIgh rollers indeed. But still, as Convention Center spokesman Steven Johnson points out, the $163 million figure for Comic-Con does not include what locals spend on the show — and a neuroscientist gathering is unlikely to draw locals.
The study and its flabbergasting figures should provide all the proof the convention center and con organizers need to finally get the community to step up and do the things that the Con needs to continues to thrive and grow — and, oh yeah, stay in San Diego instead of skarpering to Anaheim or Los Angeles.
As always, the comments to this epochal article show that local feelings are running high on this issue — with possible construction of a new stadium for the Chargers another local issue thrown in for good measure. Most comments fall into two camps — those who see the con and its revenue as a good thing for the community, and those who see local government and business leaders as running some kind of elaborate con. Two representative comments of the latter viewpoint, first from CaringChristian:
GET RID OF THE FREAK SHOW, IT AINT NOTHIN BUT A BUNCHA FREAKS AND LIBERALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
and this from SanDiego92129 ￼:
Does anyone believe this number? The city can’t balance the budget, or tell us how much the unfunded liability of Union pensions are, but they can “estimate” the financial impact of Comic-Con? The “Con” is the city Government’s inability to confront the liabilities of the Government Unions.
As much as we distrust local government as well, this time, they seem to have gotten an actual handle on the con’s finances. Let’s hope the right people have been persuaded.
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.