The San Diego City council officially approved the $520 million convention center expansion project yesterday, clearing the way for a Bigger Bang Theory panel, and the 502nd Legion at the Nerd Prom. BUT many hurdles remain, and one of them is named Cory Briggs.
“Everyone has told them this thing is not going to survive a legal challenge,” says attorney Cory Briggs, who represents plaintiffs comprising the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition, a citizens group that monitors downtown and waterfront development issues.
“And yet, for political reasons that do not benefit the voters — that only benefit the special interests downtown — they continue to spend millions of dollars on consultants and experts and architects and lawyers trying to score a touchdown on a field that doesn’t have an end zone.”
Legal challenges to the project and the hotel tax that is funding it remain, and are expected o go on for a while, delaying starting on the project and its completion—which is likely to be pushed to about 2017.
And that’s two years AFTER Comic-Con’s current contract with the city runs out.
The expanded convention center is expected to attract many different trade shows to San Diego, and make it a destination to give cities like Orlando and Las Vegas a run for their money. But Comic-Con is one of the biggest beneficiaries, and they signed a contract that runs until 2013 a few years ago. You’ll recall that two years ago saw a protracted battle to keep the Con in San Diego, and the main reason it stayed, as opposed to moving to Anaheim or Los Angeles, was a promise to build a bigger convention center. In the event, CCI signed a three year deal with the proviso that a bigger center would be built.
Will a new Battle for the Con unfold in 2013? While we have no inside knowledge of the CCI board’s thinking, it does seem that the city of San Diego is now wedded to the idea of keeping the con—and the many many exhibitors who pay $20,000 to rent a storefront for a few days each year—around. SDCC has already spilled out far beyond the convention center boundaries, so it seems there are options for the next few years.
While we’re not locals, as a regular visitor, it’s The Beat’s opinion that a bigger convention center would benefit many shows besides Comic-Con, as SD is such a pleasant destination. But we expect the battles to rage on for a looong time. And the Beat will be your John Burns on the battlefront.
Here’s an artist’s rendering of a planned rooftop park that will top the expansion, replacing that
Apocalypse Now WB area this year. For a quick trip to the future, imagine that this is covered with Batmobiles and Seth McFarlane and Hillary Clinton is President.
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.