Since planning for Comic-Con is now a year-round endeavor, here’s some of the latest news for July’s megafest.
§ The much-debated convention center expansion is on track, and funding via a hotel room tax has been approved. While we all agree the convention center needs to get bigger to enable Comic-Con to stay in San Diego, this particular means of funding the $520 million expansion was controversial. As the above piece explains, it used a PRIVATELY APPROVED TAX to raise the funds, as opposed to a public one which would never have been approved:
Which brings us to the Convention Center expansion project, and the creation of the Convention Center Facilities District. The hotel interests and the City Council decided that they wanted the expansion project to happen, and they didn’t think they could get the 2/3 vote of the public in order to raise the TOT (a logic that might also be applied to the TMD, but more on that in another post). Instead, they used a provision in Prop 218 that allows local property owners to choose to tax themselves without a public vote.
But it gets weirder still: The “tax”—an additional three percent tax on hotel guest bills for Downtown hotels, two percent for areas further out such as Mission Valley and Mission Bay, and one percent for other outlying areas—was approved by a vote of the hoteliers in a system that was weighted heavily in favor of those properties that make the most money. In other words, the higher your revenue, the more votes you were allowed to cast. So while a majority of the properties voted against the tax, it passed overwhelmingly because the biggest hotels had an outsized voice in the matter.
This whole “rigged” vote was highly unusual, and had never been done before. So while the City Council and former mayor Jerry Sanders gave their full approval of the scheme, just to be sure they sort of sued themselves, asking a judge to weigh in on whether or not the plan would hold up under legal scrutiny. The suit was joined by San Diegans for Open Government and local activist Mel Shapiro, who both opposed the plan.
Earlier this week, a judge ruled that the tax was legal. See the article for more local angles and legal analysis but the bottom line for our kind: whatever the shenanigans, let the groundbreaking begin!
§ Meanwhile, There’s some growing anxiety that this year’s D23 convention—a convention that Disney throws for itself—may mean a lighter presence for Marvel at this year’s Comic-Con. That’s what happened in 2011—D23 is a biennial event—when the all the Avengers on one stage spectacular was moved to D23 instead of Comic-Con. This year’s show will be held August 9-11th in Anaheim.
Also of note: Marvel doesn’t seem to be exhibiting at WonderCon this year:
Although there wasn’t much of an expectation for an official Star Wars presence at CCI’s sister show, WonderCon, fans did expect to see the typical Marvel booth alongside DC. While DC is a premier sponsor for the show and Superman is prominent on the front of the guide, Marvel is nowhere to be seen thus far. Although Marvel was not particularly active at last year’s show, the booth still handed out comics and Avengers movie posters, and had a number of formal signings hosted at their booth. This year? Nothing shows up on the exhibitor map. That being said, there may still be an Iron Man 3 panel since D23 Expo is long after the film will appear in theaters. But even if that it the case the removal of the booth, giveaways and formal signings is something to be noticed. Is Disney sending CCI a message? Or is this just merely coincidence?
Although it’s understandable that Disney would want to keep epochal events like the unveiling of Rocket Raccoon or Groot, say, to their own show—tickets for all three days cost as much as $166—it’s hard to see them entirely abandoning San Diego, where they’ve had many spectacular displays in recent years, from Thor’s throne to the Black Pearl.
One thing for sure: if Chip and Dale are going, I’m there.
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.