Sandiegoconcenter reports that the task force assigned to determine the future of a planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, has approved the expansion. They decided that the $750 million project was feasible and would have a positive impact on the region. How to pay for the project?

The task force presents several options for paying for the expansion including an increase in city or county sales taxes, an increase in the taxes charged for hotel rooms and creating a special taxing district around the convention center. Critics of the project call it too expensive and say expansions rarely live up to expectations. The task force will meet on Monday to issue its official recommendation.

You can read more of the task force’s decision here. Kevin Melrose rounds up other germane links here.

The expansion is, of course, VITAL to the future of the San Diego Comic-Con, as other cities were vying for its business, and the show had maxed out on space, leaving revenues and attendance flat despite the ever-increasing demand for its marketing platform. While the bigger con center is good news, the idea of an even BIGGER San Diego is daunting, to say the least, and just thinking about it, we’ve run out to purchase a flare gun, orthopedic shoes, a backpack full of MREs and some Depends.


UPDATE: We’ve begun going through the 78 page draft report and it’s the Dead Sea Scrolls for all convention center Kremlinology, with charts, graphs, and a strong repudiation of the idea that Comic-Con doesn’t sell out every hotel room within a few hours travel. (An anti-expansion consultant mentions this canard.) The entire report online mentions Comic-Con once, in that regard, painting the expansion as something that would benefit the community in adding opportunities for other shows across the board, not just the nerds. Probably a good idea as far as selling it to the locals goes.

But the problem remains…PAYING FOR IT. It’s up to the mayor to figure that one out, and SD taxpayers aren’t likely to be eager to foot the bill.


  1. Hopefully the expansion will come an indoor monorail or shuttle system to get from one end to the other. Nothing worse than showing up for that panel discussion all tuckered out and sweating. Of course, if I planned my events better I wouldn’t have to rush.

    Still, sounds good San Diego.

    Also, let me know when they get to the underwater exhibit area.

  2. If the convention becomes larger, won’t most of the increase come from more studios and other non-comics companies?


  3. Also, wasn’t there talk/rumor of raising the 4-day pass from $75 to $100…?
    That’s a little bit extra right there.

    People can stack like sardines in a hotel room, but each person still need a pass just to get in. Get the money where it’s spent — not split. Of course, the best way is to get the money from EVERY avenue possible.

  4. Jimmie- The price for a 4.5 membership is $100.

    Todd- Given the collapse of Downtown real estate, building more hotels is easier to imagine (since no one is going to be building anymore CONdos).

  5. This article says that about 500 vendors couldn’t be fitted into the 2009 SDCC:

    Comic-Con, which will be 41 years old in 2010, fills the entire convention center floor. Approximately 500 vendors were turned away this year, according to a Comic-Con representative, and general admission tickets sold out completely. A convention the size of Comic-Con has the potential to fill most empty downtown San Diego hotel rooms.

    “We would potentially benefit from larger conventions needing hotel rooms in Coronado if they are large enough to fill all available downtown hotels, also a benefit,” Shallan wrote.

    I wonder who the vendors were?


  6. Synsidar: WHAT empty hotel rooms?

    I have no problem with raising the price to $100…for what you get — four and a half days of fun and frolic — it’s very cheap.

  7. Essentially, if you exhibited consistently through 2004-2006, you get in for 2007, 2008 etc. going forward. We exhibited in 2005 only, decided to wait a couple of years to build up a catalog before exhibiting again. Then when we applied in 2007 were told sorry, all full up.

    We keep sending in applications every year, hoping to move up the list. At the rate things are going, we might get in for the 2015 show.

  8. The chart here puts San Diego’s hotel capacity at 54,395 rooms. Are all of them, regardless of price, filled? I’ll look into that tonight.

    Mr. Bieser, I didn’t know there was that sort of backlog of requests for vendor space.


  9. “Recommendation: Based on seven months of testimony and
    presentations it is the view of the Taskforce that we recommend to
    the Mayor that, based on the findings herein, he: more specifically
    define the scope and cost of the proposed Convention Center
    expansion project; work with the primary stakeholders to identify the
    revenue and financing necessary to bring it to fruition; then move
    forward on the expansion of the Convention Center.”

    “In his presentation to the Task Force, Heywood Sanders said: “What is intriguing about these to me is after the expansion, how the primary attendance number rises very rapidly, but the hotel room night number does not show much of an increase from the peak years in the 1990s. This has for me, for a very long time presented an intriguing kind of analytical conundrum. Part of the reason, obviously, and this is taken from the PricewaterhouseCoopers report is that several large events, notably Comic-Con, the two ASR trade expos and the Rock N’ Roll marathon, generate large attendance volumes without necessarily generating very many hotel room nights.”
    However, several of the Task Force members raised concerns and objections to Mr. Sanders claims.”

    Remember the $8 hot dog? The Task Force recommends placing retail along the waterfront, as well as adding a pedestrian bridge (which may solve the train problem).

    Page 46 of the report (found at: ) shows the possibilities of expansion! Option Five, contiguous to the center, along the port site (east of Hall H), is the recommended suggestion, although the Hilton poses a small problem.

    Personally, I wonder why convention centers aren’t vertical. Elevators and escalators move people more efficiently, the floors can be separated for different events, and a city adds a landmark to the local skyline.

  10. I just wish they’d put all the comics stuff together in the hall.

    Going from the 1100-1200 area to artists alley took me over a half hour. (Partially my faukt for not taking the outside route)

    I do hope the “out of the hall” event idea gains momentum.

  11. The good thing is I don’t have to think about it as a con-goer, as I can’t imagine I’ll still be going by the time it’s built.

  12. Oops… looks like they plan to build BEHIND Hall H, towards the Fifth Avenue Pier. The new exhibition halls would not be on the same level as the existing convention center (reserved for marina access, and existing loading docks).

    Looking at Google Maps, why don’t they landfill the Fifth Avenue Pier, and then add some parkland to existing Marina Park? Then they could double the space of the most recent expansion (Halls D-H). Of course, then they would have too much space…

    Detailed site options:

  13. The price for Comicon, even at $100.00 for 4.5 days is a bargain. The World SF convention is more than $200 at the door for 4 days (and buying tickets 2 years in advance starts at more than $100). The World Fantasy Convention (membership around one thousand people, tops, and is a small convention) is $150.00.

  14. Walking past Petco Field every day this year, wishing the new pedestrian bridge had been built already, I kept thinking, “That could be your new Hall H, right there.”

  15. Re: Paying for it

    I think it would be fair to ask CCI for a little help there. I mean, it’s pretty obvious they’re building it for them anyway.

  16. Tom: I thought that 20 years ago and here I still am.

    Torsten: when are YOU going to get a job on a task force!

  17. Todd- a lot of the area around the Convention Center is landfill, done about 100 years ago, before we understood things like earthquakes and liquefaction. Soon as California figured that out, it stopped landfilling.

    And although $100 is a big jump from $75 of the 2009 Con, I kind of wish it would go up. Scare the cheapskates away right off the bat instead of getting them when you add in parking, plane tickets, hotels, etc. Admission should be close to $150.

  18. They could always raise funds by making pros pay too.

    What % of the 125000 are people that get in for free?

    (Said as someone who has never paid to attend the con)

  19. Statements re hotel room occupancy:

    North County Times, Escondido:

    Mattson estimated North County hotel occupancy this week is in the high 80 percent range.

    “You have 20,000 rooms associated with Comic-Con, and you have 23,000 rooms associated with the Surf Cup going on at the same time, and you have the opening of the races,” Mattson said.

    Swaths of North County from Del Mar to Carlsbad, and inland along the I-15 corridor as far north as Rancho Bernardo, are virtually booked up, said veteran hotelier Robert Rauch.

    Further south, hotels are packed solid. Comic-Con is being held at the San Diego Convention Center downtown.

    When a big convention such as Comic-Con hits San Diego, hotels tend to fill up first in downtown San Diego, said Rauch, chairman of the San Diego North Convention & Visitors Bureau. The overflow guests go to more distant locations to find lodgings.

    San Diego’s hotel occupancy rate during Comic-Con is the highest for the county during the entire year, said Johnson. Occupancy rates for the county’s 54,000 hotel rooms average 98 percent each day during the four-day event, he said.

    However, since 1999 the number of overnight visitors to our region have stayed in a relative narrow band along with inflation adjusted average room rates. Without survey data, it is just hard to conclude that the shows significant growth and prominence has, since the middle of the decade, translated into greater brand awareness about San Diego and, consequently, “heads in beds.”

    Winston said leisure travel had dropped off less sharply, but a slowing tourism industry was apparent earlier this week with the arrival of the annual Comic-Con extravaganza in downtown San Diego. People in the industry said hotel occupancy rose to 80 percent, a contrast to previous years when wall-to-wall bookings forced some costumed visitors to bed down as far away as Oceanside.

    All told, North County lodgings collected $328 million in the 12 months through June, about $67 million less than in the preceding 12 months.

    Culinary Concepts’ blog:

    SD leaders are fighting to keep San Diego as the front runner for the group, as it means so much economically and culturally (Comic-Con generates $16 million in direct spending and $38 million in indirect spending for the city–meaning attendees spend $16 million on hotels, car rentals and restaurants, and a “ripple effect” of more than twice that). Our hotel occupancy rate during the convention is the highest for the county during the entire year, at 98%! The Convention Center is working with a task force fromed by the city to research adding 200,000+ square feet to the center. I think this would be a great move, to keep groups coming to America’s Finest City, and helping our economy!

    What accounts for the 98 percent versus 80+ percent disparity in occupancy rates? Surely, it’s not as simple as splitting hotels and motels as types of lodging.


  20. A big part of the cost to build more space will be a hotel tax. Whatever the hotel tax is now, it will soon be more. That way conventioneers will be paying for the increased size of the convention hall.

  21. I’ll believe in the expansion of the Convention Center they break the grounds to actually do it.

    Till then, I’m expecting YEARS of political manuevering, feasibility reports, and a public ballot iniative or two before ANY expansion plans are actualised. (Local SDers should remember how long it took PETCO PARK to be built, and that promise/threat of a new CHARGERS Stadium still bubbling along.)

    I don’t know if the Convention expansion will be realised by 2015— past the CCI:SD’s contract with the Center that ends in 2012… or even in time for the new extension period past THAT.

  22. Yes, I guess I was confused by the multiple references to “county” and Comic-Con attendees taking rooms in North County hotels and motels. Not being familiar with San Diego, I just think of the area as the San Diego metropolitan area.


  23. it seems like a LOT of extra money. Not sure if it’s a good idea.

    I mean, I also don’t understand why an expansion would be necessary considering the use of local hotels and whatnot can also provide extra room for additional panels and whatnot, while not costing the taxpayer any additional revenue.

  24. If you look closely at the proposal which suggested an expansion into the fan area, you’ll see a fault line running along the western edge of the property.

    Re: CCI:SD and expansion. What are the demographics of attendees? How many from the city, from the county, from the Los Angeles metropolitan area, from other states? Local attendees help sell the expansion as a local amenity (important as business travel budgets are reduced), travelers help sell the center as a tourism magnet (although when I visited SDCC, I never visited museums or parks).

    Heidi, I am a task force… the Seduction of the Innocent. No members, I report to no one, and I am privately funded.