Yesterday’s San Diego Union-Tribune has a front page story by Lori Weisberg entitled Is Comic-Con really leaving San Diego?, and unlike virtually every other story about this that we’ve read and commented on here, this time the folks who run the city of San Diego’s convention and visitor’s bureau appear to have suddenly woken up screaming “HOLY SHIT?!???!!! WE CAN’T LET COMIC-CON GO!!!!!”
It seems the city of Anaheim is making an aggressive move to get Comic-Con when its deal expires in 2012, and this bold wooing has suddenly made San Diego realize that Comic-Con is not so bad after all, and everyone rolls out some “Comic-Con, please don’t go” rhetoric.
The prospect of losing a bonanza worth tens of millions of dollars in local spending each year has persuaded hoteliers to double the number of rooms they commit to Comic-Con and provide free meeting space for a gathering that sells out months in advance and has a long waiting list for exhibitors.
After 2012, the event held each July at the San Diego Convention Center will be free to leave town.
If Comic-Con departs, so would its 126,000 attendees, who fill hotel rooms and boost the bottom line of restaurants, bars and local attractions. The San Diego Convention Center Corp. recently sent a proposal to Comic-Con seeking to extend its contract through 2015.
Can this be the very same SDCCC that keeps insisting that Comic-Con revenue is a drop in the bucket compared to those nephrologists and anesthesiologists and so on? YES, IT CAN!
A task force, made up of some of the tourism industry’s heaviest hitters and officials from the Convention Center Corp., city and the San Diego Unified Port District, is leading an aggressive campaign to remind Comic-Con organizers just how well-loved they are. Whether such overtures are enough to stave off a competing bid from Anaheim is unclear.
We’ve been provided with EXCLUSIVE video from the meetings between city and con officials:
As indicated above, this proposal includes — SAINTS ALIVE — more cheaper hotel rooms! Even the uptight Hyatt is becoming more accommodating:
In response, San Diego’s three waterfront hotels — the Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego Marriott and Hilton San Diego Bayfront — have committed to providing roughly 300,000 square feet of their meeting space free of charge in 2013 through 2015. In addition, the Convention Center Corp. is proposing to increase the number of dedicated convention hotel rooms from 7,000 to 14,000 and says it is working to boost the number for this year through 2012.
The 1,600-room Manchester Grand Hyatt, down the street from the convention center, has agreed to boost its 2013-2015 block of Comic-Con rooms from 700 to 1,400, a concession it needed to make in order to hold on to Comic-Con’s business, said Mike Waddill, the hotel’s director of sales.
“We’d be hard-pressed to book a weekend in July that would even come close to the revenues that Comic-Con brings us,” Waddill said. “It would be difficult, if not improbable.”
Comic-Con scholars can only take this as the public manifestation of the greatest sea change yet in the relationship between the city and the Con — in past years, the locals have only begrudgingly acknowledged that the con is more than a parade of weirdos in costumes, rather than an event known worldwide that brings millions of dollars to the city’s coffers.
CCI:SD’s David Glanzer is quoted with mild “Things are not decided” sentiments, but these are without question the kind of moves that have to be made not only to keep the con in San Diego but to keep it bearable for those 126,000 people. Easier access to hotels, more public spaces available, civic concessions to the realities of running the show and making it more logistically feasible: these are things that must happen to keep people from just throwing up their hands, like Mark Verheiden does in this recent post.
As usual, much of the fun from the article comes from reading the thoughts in the comments of cranky locals. Unlike other times we’ve delved into the comments, the popular sentiment this time seems to be keeping Comic-Con and evinces a live-and-let-live attitude towards costumed attendees that has been much lacking in recent years. A representative post:
I don’t attend Comic-con, but I think it would be bad news for San Diego if it were to leave. One thing to keep in mind is that during its four day stay in San Diego, you don’t hear too much news regarding disturbances, drunkenness, fights or any other disruptions that have to involve the police. The attendees in large part are fun loving, role playing harmless geeks, nerds, professionals, and lots of just regular folk letting loose for a couple days of harmless fun. Heck, I think there are probably more arrests for a chargers, raiders game which is a one day event vs the Comic-con convention which is four days. It’s a great Family event and I think it would be a shame if it went elsewhere.
This person even solves the hotel crisis!
Why not just bring some cruise ships here for that week and use them for lodging?
Make the money losing 10th Ave Marine Terminal (which is right next to the Convention Center) into a second cruise ship terminal.
Just four ships would mean anywhere from 4000 to 8000 more rooms available.
Milton Friedman also stopped by:
How’s that hotel and tourism tax doing for you? Once again, you freaking liberals and your tax mentality push yet another money making business away. At least it’s another step toward bankruptcy!
There is a shortage of hotel rooms because of the taxes! Taxes impede growth. Remove the tax and watch the number of rooms grow!
Let’s hope this all works out. Otherwise, San Diego city fathers just might someday be singing a different tune.
Technorati Tags: K.C. and the Sunshine Band
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.