The Beat‘s Wednesday couldn’t have stuck to a better schedule. Whereas on some days we struggle to get up before noon, we woke up before the alarm clock even went off, refreshed and energetic. By 11 we were showered, fed and caffeinated with a brisk cup of Vietnamese coffee. All of our computers were up and running, the modem line was secure, the phone charged, the credit card was near at hand. At 11:55 we had the San Diego convention site loaded up and ready to refresh. At 11:58 we put on “Come With Us” by the Chemical Brothers for that added little boost, and then…it was showtime.

The hotel site live, we loaded it up in four or five windows, waiting for the little blue bars to fill up. We didn’t hit refresh because that way lies disaster. A sip of coffee, and then…success! The hotel form! We hit our preferred housing site — The Omni, home of free wifi and movie stars — and waited…NOT AVAILABLE.

Just like when you’re hunting for an apartment in New York City, at moments like these you have to make a snap judgement. There’s no “think about it”. There is only “do”. We hit our sentimental favorite hotel, The Horton Grand, which is sort of out of date and yes, the staff is cranky, but, hell the toilets have pull chains. Old skool. We hit it again. Rooms available. Name, address, credit card…we kept forgetting to check the boxes to approve everything, so had a nerve wracking wait. A bad feeling crept over us. The blue bar moved so slowwwwwly. Would THIS be the year? Could this be the disaster we’ve avoided for so long? A shadow of fear furrowed The Beat‘s brow. And then…sweet, sweet confirmation. A HOTEL ROOM! WE ARE SAVED. The time: 12:30.

Our personal mission accomplished, we attempted to go back in to upgrade…and turned on AIM. And there the sorrows began.

Crashing…freezing…timed out. Everywhere the story was the same. Good people, good friends. Five miles out. Unhappy face.

What happened?

The great San Diego Cow Race For a Room is now as much a part of the con experience as stormtroopers and $5 convention center cokes. This poor fellow has a minute second by second account of his agony…but why bother reading it when so many people had the same experience? Even superstars of the comics, like Paul Dini:

We called on automatic redial from three different phone lines and got three solid hours of busy signals. When we got on the site via computer, it noted our room choice, told us it needed to take our credit card information, then put up the goddamn spinning ball on our screen for forty minutes. Then the goddamn spinning ball stopped spinning, the screen asked us for our credit card info again, then the ball went back to spinning for forty minutes. At no time were we allowed to actually access the screen to give our credit card info. Madness.

Now you’d think that the showrunner for COUNTDOWN would know he has a room waiting for him in DC’s doubtless large block but…no one wants to get left out.

The situation was a bit better with exhibitors, as it should be. One of our good pals emailed with this tale:

At SDCC 2007, Comic-Con gave exhibitors the chance to sign up to have the show organizers handle your hotel reservations. Since then, I’d get e-mails from them saying they couldn’t confirm anything until after hotels went live to the public, so we’d still have to go the same route as everyone else with calling over and over and reloading the website etc. But late last night I got an e-mail from Travel Planners confirming our reservation for our hotel. I believe it was our first or second choice, from the list we gave them at the end of last year’s show. All I had to do was call and give them a credit card for the deposit, and after 3 mins on the phone this morning (Travel Planners is in NYC, no need to wait till noon), I was set.

Now before anyone cries foul, this is exactly how it should be. Exhibitors must be at the con center early, and they don’t have time to suffer through an hour drive through horrible traffic and no parking. They have to load and unload. They are there to make money, yes, but also as the star attractions of the show. They are what puts the comic in Comic-con. We polled a few exhibitors on this year’s Hoteloween and heard no major horror stories–the con seems to have handled this properly.

To be blunt, some of the whining and crying in the comments section of the San Diego hotel blog is just crap whining and crying — so many people got hung up, there were NEVER going to be that many rooms available. That said the the Travel Planners website is good and fucked and became an instrument of exquisite torture yesterday. It should not have dashed the hopes of so many people who thought they were in, only to get kicked off. That was cruel and unnecessary. If a web site is overloaded it should just time out and not lead right up to the confirmation before dropping you like a hot potato.

But, in the larger sense, as we’ve written here each and every year, unless Fae Desmond and David Glanzer pick up a pick axe and steam shovel, and personally start building a hotel, there are just not enough hotel rooms to go around.

That’s just the way it is.

Oh sure, if we’d gotten screwed we’d be weeping as hard as anyone. We had a back-up room booked which we’ll give to some deserving pal. But we wanted to be where we like to be, not at the Marina or Airport.

As we write each and every year, the keys to understanding the San Diego Problem can best be understood by perusing the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau website. Particularly the reports to be found on the media page. According to various reports, there are just upwards of 54,000 hotel rooms in San Diego county. We’ve lost the spreadsheet we once had, but there are probably around 16-20,000 hotel rooms that could be considered “close” to the convention center, in the downtown area. (You can’t get on the TP site right now, or we’d do a fresh count.) This report shows planned hotels, which add up to perhaps about 1600 additional “close” rooms next year.

Actually, there are some oddities regarding these facts and figures, although just what they mean is open to question. We’ve cut ‘n’ pasted a report on last year’s convention attendance. You can view that below. Click for a larger version. We’ve highlighted June and July.


What’s really interesting is that according to this, the 150,000 visitors from July still spent $19 million less than June’s 8 conventions with 92,552 attendees. Who are these high rollers? Sadly we haven’t figured out how to go back in time and look. We can look at the 2008 schedule for the SD Convention Center which lists several shows in June and July, none with more than 23,000 attendees. Interestingly, the Comic-Con is listed but no attendance estimate is given.

There’s something slightly shennaniganistic about all this — although it still doesn’t mean you should have gotten a hotel room. This story from a San Diego business paper says the biggest show in ’06 was for The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, although it allows that Comic-Con is part of the cultural “fabric”:

Our ongoing success is bringing new challenges. Many of our most valued clients that generate the largest economic impact and tax revenues are outgrowing our facility. In 2006, HIMSS was our largest event in economic terms as it generated nearly $82 million in economic impact and $1.75 million in taxes and attendees used 63,000 hotel room nights. But HIMSS has outgrown our current size. Comic Con International is another example. What started as a small show in a hotel ballroom now uses the entire Convention Center. Without more space, Comic Con will outgrow our current facility resulting in a significant loss to the cultural fabric of San Diego, as well as an economic loss to local hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions.

Tensions between the townies and the furries continue to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the evolving cultural fabric of the convention, and we can’t say we’re entirely unsympathetic to it. No one likes a big parade going over their front lawn. San Diego, the city, has an uneasy relationship with the con; far from claiming it as a signature, star-studded event, it is generally considered an afterthought. This PR from the mayor’s office admits that Comic-Con is an important piece of return business for the city, but says the Environmental Systems Research Institute show is an even BIGGER part of the city’s economics, attracting approximately 15,000 specialists in geographic information system software.

These 15,000 map-muddlers generated some $46.5 million in economic impact for San Diego in 2006. Comic-con? A mere $32.1 million. Doing the math, a geographer computer nerd spends $3100 in San Diego. A stormtrooper, a scant $267 (based on an estimate of 120,000 attendees in 2006.)

Something about these numbers seems a bit wack. For instance, say only 20,000 of those 120,000 stayed in hotels. Let’s say they averaged $1000 for their hotel stays. That alone is $20 million. Now, say each of those 120,000 people had subsisted on a single can of tuna fish a day from Ralph’s. That’s another million dollars right there.

Perhaps the comic-con attracts a ton of locals who don’t book hotels and buy their nightly rations at a Ralph’s over in Carlsbad? Whatever. Considering the mayor’s reported low opinion of the con, it’s tempting to read an agenda into these numbers, but there could also be some other factors at play we’re not aware of. And yes, people with an expense report do spend a lot more than an indie cartoonist who lives on hummus.

So the crisis continues. The laws of supply and demand continue in logical fashion. Fewer people will go to the show this year, perhaps, because of the hassles and pains. And things will ease up. A little. And then more people will go again and the cycle begins anew. The bucket is only so big.

We do know one thing: we’re willing to bet any amount of money that if we polled those 15,000 geographer computer nerds they would much rather be at Comic-Con than ESRI.


  1. I think the reason why the 150,000 people who went to Comic-Con last July spent less money is because the majority of those people live in San Diego to begin with. Going out and eating downtown after show hours is no joke, either.

  2. I managed to get a room through a friend of mine but that was because it had been booked about two months ago. This is the tenth San Diego and it may be my last. People who live out of the US (and I asked a friend over here to try and get through because I was freelancing yesterday) are at a disadvantage but so are people outside of San Diego too, it seems. Contrast this madness with booking for New York Comic Con. We got our hotel room with ease (at the official Con hotel) and even managed to extend our stay by a few extra days after the show with no hassle. Why is it that we should go through hell and purgatory to visit a show that makes you jump through such hoops? Heidi, your piece is sobering and says things that should be said…

  3. I’m opting out this year. In and out on Fri. and that’s it. I have a new exit strategy worked out. A whole new plan for the floor and I’m not even going to any events or big panels, I have no grand expectations this time.

  4. The hotel room hassle is also due to the fact that tourism is big business in San Diego and July is the height of the local tourism season here. So, not only are you competing with all the other Comic-Con attendees, but also all the families that are visiting Sea World, Legoland, and the San Diego Zoo…Remember that year when the Padres had three home games during the weekend of Con? Yeah, that was insane to say the least.

    Of course, there are also all of us locals that go to Comic-Con year in and year out, so we just don’t spend as much money on eating at local restaurants or staying at hotels. I save that for buying comics…

  5. Every year, I hear about the mad rush for rooms. This is the first year that I am going. The wife and I got a room at the Hampton Inn several miles away from the Convention Center (although with a shuttle that supposedly will take you there) a couple of months ago.

    Now this post makes me paranoid. Will that resevation be voided because I didn’t wait until now? Did I err in gettiong a room in advance? What is the difference between the room I got and rooms everybody is fighting over?

    I am weird, I know. But I don’t understand why these rooms are such a premium. Is it because they are so close?

  6. The only reason I have been to San Diego was for the Con. As a budget traveller, I usually budget about $100-150 a day for everything. So, at the very least, I would spend about $600 as a visitor.
    How many attendees are from the San Diego area? From California? From the U.S.? From overseas? Can hotel taxes be indexed to see when the occupancy is greatest? And does the Tourist Bureau offer comment cards which visitors can fill out to let the city know how important the Con is?

  7. William: The reason these rooms are at a premium is that the rates are lower for the room blocks negotiated by Comic-Con. The cost of hotel rooms in San Diego during the summer has skyrocketed in recent years, so rooms at the lower CCI rates are in high demand. And because the hotels are aware of the high demand during Comic-Con week, they are unwilling to free up large numbers of those rooms for special lower rates. In addition, there are many hotels that won’t even negotiate with CCI’s travel agency because they are betting they will be able to get the highset rate possible for all their rooms without offering any discounts.

    I’m told that more rooms will become available over the next few months, especially when people cancel multiple reseverations they’ve booked, so it’s a good idea to keep checking back at the CCI hotel website.

  8. It should be noted that it’s people like William that are allowing San Diego to play numbers shenanigans (William and others, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not take offense, this is not your fault).
    SDCC is so huge that Comic-Con can’t broker more rooms than they get, because so many of us HAVE to book earlier and in the more expensive rooms, or in different areas. So even if we fill 95 percent of San Diego (which might even be a conservatively low prediction), somehow they get away with ignoring the hotel dollars people like William are spending for SDCC.
    Heck, my last tour de SDCC, I was in Mission Bay in 2006. That economic impact was not counted, I was just filtered into “normal tourism” stats.
    I’m honestly not sure why San Diego wants to downplay SDCC so much.

  9. The economic impact numbers sound very fishy to me. Usually those are for the “total economic impact” which is the amount actually spent due to a convention times a multiplier as the money continues to filter through the locale’s economy (i.e. the hotel then buys food from a local commercial grocer, etc.). The geographer figure sounds like a multiplier was applied, while the Comic-con figure almost certainly doesn’t. Particularly since CCI is itself a local organization, it’d seem the registration and exhibitor fees need to be included in the amount hitting the local economy, which makes that $267 even more ludicrous.

    And while I perfectly understand the number of hotel rooms problem, there’s really no excuse for how bad the user experience of trying to book one was. Even though it’s not my field, I could’ve easily improved their front end and UI to make it significantly more efficient and just a better design, as well as optimizing for a large load. And it’s now trivial to rent server time by the hour. There are also more fundamental redesigns that would improve things. For example, be able to establish an account on the server in advance where you’ve already entered your personal info beforehand. Be able to pre-enter a list of preferences, and add a “next preference” button. Etc. And that’s before even looking at the more complicated transaction processing backend and their general workflow design.

  10. Wack is right! Something does seem off. I mean… all that drinking. Someone is paying for those drinks!

    I’ve noticed kind of a low-key hostility toward Con-goers in San Diego. Last year, when we were chatting with our cab driver on the way to the airport after it was finished, I said something along the lines of, “Well, it was fun, but I’m glad it’s over,” referring to how tired (and hung over) I was, and he said, “Yeah, so are we.” I just thought, excuse me?

    Then I threw up in the San Diego airport. Take that, San Diego!

  11. Wait… that hilarious anecdote I just told (I swear, I did it discreetly and didn’t make a fuss or mess) and other anecdotes I did not tell made me think that maybe all the drunken nerds and art hipsters contributes to the negative opinion San Diegans have of Comic-Con. Perhaps we need some lessons in deportment. If this means that, in addition to showering daily, wearing clean clothes, and not wearing my convention badge outside of the convention hall, I need stop getting tipsy and weaving through the sidewalks of San Diego, I will gladly do it for the sake of giving a good impression of comic book professionals.

  12. I totally understand why the locals don’t like the con. It’s the same reason I don’t like St. Patricks Day and other people in NYC don’t like Gay Pride Weekend or any of the countless parades that go down Fifth Avenue all year. It’s getting so I don’t like Halloween. Nobody likes B&T invasions that leave vomit on the streets.

    Last year at the con I was in Ralph’s and overheard many locals rolling their eyes at the Jedis buying carrot sticks and wishing it was over.

    However, the economic impact of the con is another thing. San Diego is a notorious badly governed city, and denying the con’s economic impact is just silly.

    That said, SD is also one of the most uptight cities I’ve ever been to. Watch “Real OC Housewives” for a while to get the feeling.

  13. Were I to venture a guess, your biggest difference between Comicon and the trade shows (comicon being a consumer show in convention jargon), would be marketing dollars spent. Tech shows and especially medical shows will spent large amount of money on high-end receptions. Steaks, top shelf drinks, entertainment. Parties for 1000+ people at a time, which will also include venue fees, as often as not.

    If you throw out the hotel rooms, and figure a certain number of people are eating at McCrap or going back to their out-of-city hotels/abodes and contrast that with a trade show where most people are on an expense account, and those high-end promotions, you’ll probably find some sort of gap.

    As a cynic who’s looked into booking catering at the San Diego Convention Center, something you aren’t going to see much of at Comicon, but do at trade shows, let’s just say the convention center makes good coin on coffee and ice cream if a booth is sponsoring.

  14. Funny. It seemed like a lot of locals I ran into seemed cool with the whole affair…granted most of the time I dealt with locals was on Tuesday before the onslaught.

    I can see where people might start getting annoyed as the Trolley routes go to the “special event” route and their daily commute is invaded by Federation officers, an Imperial honor guard and assorted members of the Shire. Honestly I think the people happiest with the con is the local Budwieser distributor. I’ve learned over the years your event is a major money maker for the beer wholesalers when they start making “Welcome…” signage for their customer stores and bars. Welcome Comic Con Attendees signs were all over the package stores, c-stores and few of the downtown bars.

  15. Tori –

    Las Vegas can’t handle a comic book convention. It’s been tried a few times in the past.

    I would recommend looking into the North County area for housing – but then you got the Del Mar Race Track fanatics to deal with – now that Comic Con now coincides with their opening day. That’s the problem that left me stranded without a hotel for the night last year.


  16. These pieces Heidi writes (seemingly every year) crystalize why I no longer want to go to SD.

    I was all set to go to Wonder Con this year until I found it conflicted with another event.

    I would much rather still to the B-level (in terms of size not quality) shows like Heroes and Baltimore and maybe Emerald City.

  17. I got a room through Travel Planners at my first choice spot. Couldn’t ask for better service. For the last few years I couldn’t even log on until everything was gone and I had to go to my default off-the-list hotel (reasonable rates, no frills).

  18. I actually managed to get a Holiday Inn on the Bay for Comic-con 2008 on Priceline back in September 2007, from Tues. July 22 to Wed. July 23, for much less than the Travel Planner rate. You have to be willing to pay the entire thing upfront, take whatever they give you for the price and to be very, very lucky. I used Hotwire to pick my price before bidding on Priceline.

  19. To Jackie: Thanks for the info!

    To Darren: I’M HORRIBLY OFFENDED!! (Not Really. But if it makes you feel any better, my wife is a Hilton Honors member and will be using the points she gets from us staying there to get a night free somewhere else. So we are at least sticking it to the man that way.)

    From what it sounds like, the residents don’t like us, the mayor hates us, we don’t spent enough money, why don’t we go out back and eat worms.

    On one hand, I understand that getting whacked in the head by a piece of someone’s costume while you’re trying to make your weekly grocery purchase might be annoying, but, on the other hand, hasn’t Comic-Con been going on for approaching 40 years? Should the natives be accustomed to this by now? Or at least realize that no matter how much they roll their eyes, the con isn’t likely to go away?

  20. I’ve been going to Comic-Con since 1991, back when it just filled up a hall and a half of the convention center. Sixteen years of slowly growing frustration and increasingly complex travel plans — and finally, this year, I’m breaking the streak and not planning on going to the convention.

    It’s just far too much of a hassle — waaaay too expensive and just too much stress. There’s a half a dozen other comic conventions (smaller ones, in other markets) I’d rather attend.

    Gone are the days when I could stay at the J-Street in for $125 a week. When I first started looking at hotel rooms for this year’s show way back in August, I finally threw up my proverbial hands in frustration when I saw that the Vagabond Inn (several miles away from downtown, never part of the convention block, your standard roadside motor inn on the same level as Super 8) was quoting close to $300 a night. No thanks.

  21. We went last year and stayed at a local campsite for two nights. It was fun and cost only 20$ to book. But construction was going on nearby and scout troops.

    I really really really wish they would consider moving to los angeles. Still in california bigger convention center and several hotels are being built and there’s more hotels all over town. The locals wont care because there’s no such thing in la.

  22. Cary you’re incorrect… Vegas could easily handle a WELL RUN large scale show. the number and proximity of rooms combined with convention-capable venues, not to mention the fact that they easily handle CES, AVN & the the ST convention, not to mention dozens more, proves the CITY is capable.

    It comes down to a.) who is organizing it and b.) will everyone get behind it and go.

    Most pros I know have mentioned how badly Vegas needs a MAJOR comic-con, so I’d bet money if the right people handled a.) then b.) would not be an issue.

  23. I’m a local so my lodging is always covered.
    That said, the adventurous might consider staying in TJ (south of the border) for the con. It’s no further than North County and if you cross over the border on foot (highest recommendation- after a cab ride from your hotel) there’s a trolley station right at the border that will get you up to the Con in about 30 minutes.
    M.High: San Diego gentrified, so all the cheap rooms went away.
    Mayor Sanders may not be back for 2009. Incompetence tends to do that…
    Gaslamp restaurant servers tend to like the Con and attendees- I can’t recall meeting a waiter that didn’t enjoy a bump in tips during the Con. I don’t buy the downplaying of the Con’s economic impact on the city (well, I believe that they report it that way if only to try and minimize the CCI’s influence on the City Council and assorted developers. The same way you’ll hear no end of stories that Jack Murphy Stadium is a deathtrap as an attempt to boost the Chargers bid for a new stadium).
    As for Vegas… I’ve been to Vegas in July and I’ve been to the Middle East in July.
    I’ll take the Middle East. The food’s better.

  24. A local would probably know better about the overall picture, and that money per attendee figure is ludicrous no matter what the anecdotal evidence suggests, but over the last couple of years I’ve talked to a number of restaurant managers, waiters, bar wait staff and especially cab drivers who felt that their services were in some cases under-utilized in comparison to other convention weekends and that con attendees when they could identify them as such tipped poorly.

    I’ve also shared a train commute with big groups of con people on a few occasions and the weird thing I remember about those experiences wasn’t so much the costumes or whatever but that the con attendees always look angry and unhappy. Almost oppressively so. This strikes me as odd because it seems to me you should be happy to be going to a big con!

    If the con went to Vegas, there wouldn’t be any end to complaints about getting to and from the con proper.

  25. I don’t get why the local papers haven’t made more of the price gouging being done by hotels. A room which 5 years ago was $100 a night is $300 a night now during Comicon, and not just at hotels which are ordinarily pricey anyway, but hotels which are 20 miles away in Escondido. This started about 3 years ago as it took that long for the hotels to realize they could get away with it. Parking lots across the street from the hotel had already changed their rates from $8.00 a day to $20 a day during Comicon, and even the guys with the little bicycle shuttles which charged $3.00 three years ago were charging $10.00 last summer. A lot of people make a lot of extra money off Comicon during that week, and their prices go back down after the Con is over.

  26. You drink Vietnamese coffee, too? Amazing. Ca fe sua da rules.

    I got a room at the Hard Rock within 20 minutes online.

  27. Make mine cafe sua da too! Nice write up about the Con. I look forward to going to the Con and I imagine San Diego will be happy to take my money.

  28. Rantz -speaking from experience: The one event that was held in November ’03 at the Mandalay Bay was a horrid mess- and if I remember, DC was even touting the release of Daryn Cooke’s the New Frontier at that time and even that wasn’t enough to send packing them in. I had a table at that convention and from the looks I could see on most attendees’ faces – it seemed that they were more interested in hitting the craps table than plunking down money for your book.

    and therein lies the rub: a comic book convention in a huge casino town is too much distraction with the almighty dollar on what it’s economy is based on – perhaps it’s a good occupation for the kiddies along a major throughfare that’s not kid friendly in the first place- but Vegas is what it is – a town to throw money around on blackjack, Star Wars slot machine progressives, and hookers.

    You don’t have none of that in San Diego – other than the hookers.
    The show was a good experiment , and I couldn’t knock the convenience of a five minute drive back and forth between Mandalay Bay and my dad’s house everyday.

    The only conventions that bring in revenue for the city of Vegas are porn & sportscar conventions.



  29. To William Gatevackes:

    You’re fine. It’s just that you probably paying more to stay if that hotel isn’t on the list of hotels that the SDCC organizers deal with, that’s all. But they do advise people to go ahead and make reservations ahead of time. But like I said you do miss out on the lowest rates possible from the organizers.

    On That note, it took me 90 mins to get through on the web and get a reservation. I was on my hardline phone and cell phone for 2 hours of busy signals. Four yrs. ago, I didn’t have this problem at all.

    I think that the con has gotten too big for itself. But people need to also put into account that it’s not just comics anymore, it the whole entertainment aspect now. Video Game, Movies and TV and Anime, Cartoons, Manga. It’s all there now and San Diego is only about 2 hrs. away driving distance from LA so it’s convenient for Hollywood to plug there ideas to the public a or more ahead. And now the show gets podcasted and shown live on TV for some channels it has become the monster that I don’t think that the original creators would have ever dream of.

  30. I didn’t make it to SDCC last year because of all the hotel hooha.
    My friends and I setup our game plan for 9am PST so we could all make it this year.
    Four of us were trying to get a reservations for seven people.

    I called the live voice line, and put it on automatic redial.
    I got through once but it rang for 5 minutes straight with no answer.
    I hung up, and tried again.
    Come 9:30am with nothing but a busy signal, I gave up on the phones.

    Meanwhile, I was trying online at the same time.
    At 9:05, I actually got through to booking. It was a great positive start early in the game.
    A room was free with 2 beds at the Horton Grand and I clicked on BOOK IT.
    I went to the next screen, and put in my dates.
    Hit next (or whatever it was)… the screen came back with all hotel rooms unavailable. :-(

    I kept trying up through 9:55, and never got through again via the online login.
    Then I quit, fearing anything worth getting was already booked.

    A friend managed to get through and get one room around 9:30.
    But out of all of us, we managed to only reserve one room.
    So I opted out of going.

    Out of luck again for the 2nd year straight.

    I don’t think I’ll even bother in 2009 or beyond.
    What’s the use?

  31. Sorry if this is coming too late. I got lazy before I found any follow-up postings. Maybe moving to Las Vegas or another city won’t solve everything, but at least it might solve getting people to attend the show and sleep indoors.

    One thing I want the SDCC exhibitors to know: I spend money there, and I spend it at their booths. While I love the panels and seeing movie stars and all that stuff, the San Diego con is the one con I know where I am most likely to find anything I’m looking for. I’m not an attendee who attends all the event stuff and spends 10 bucks on the floor. I’ve spent $1K every year for 15 years, and for each of the last 3 years I’ve blown 2 to 3 grand at dealers’ tables, and not just on a few high-end books. SD is my escape-and-splurge con. I can’t get a room this year, and since I’ve had a good freelancing (computer) year, I was ready to spend even more. But it looks like I won’t get to spend it at your booths.

    And as far as spending in the city, every meal is bought locally. I go to the movies once or twice while I’m there; I hit the bars. Wednesday before the con I’m usually stuffed with chicken wings and beer before I waddle over for early badge pick-up. I’m really going to miss not being able to attend this year.