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.


  1. As I pointed out in the comments at SDCCBlog, Marvel doesn’t usually exhibit at WonderCon anyway. I’ve been to the con four times in the last five years, and last year was the only time they had a booth.

  2. The remaining hurdle, aside from inevitable appeals to this ruling, is approval by the California Coastal Commision. This is where organized labor would normally oppose the apporval, but a number of side deals between the city and labor have removed their opposition. Instead, the Coastal Commision approval is going to be opposed by the San Diego Chargers! The Chargers want a new publicly financed stadium, and they believe that the only way the populace will vote for it (and they do want a public vote on the funding) is if it can be linked to a multi-use public facility. So the Chargers want to build a combined stadium/convention center expansion a couple blocks east of Petco Park, despite no one else thinking this is a good idea. And they’re going to oppose the expansion of the Convention Center along the bayfront so that they can incorporate the expansion into a stadium design. Imagine having to walk five blocks between Con panels!

  3. The Chargers posted their worst record in years and they backed DeMaio for mayor. They have little sway over anything- and with the LA Option essentially dead thanks to the AEG drama, they can’t scare anyone by threatening to move.
    And you want to know what’s worse than five blocks? Five blocks in July heat.
    They’re a paper tiger at best.

  4. @Chris: I think that the Chargers’ multi-use, retractable roof building is a good idea…or least it was about ten years ago before the Bayfront Hilton was built. The Chargers snoozed, because they wanted to stay in Mission Valley, and have lost out on the easiest way to get a new stadium built. The hotel surcharge, combined with the amount of money that the NFL has been investing in new stadiums would have covered the whole expansion with minimum fuss. (It should say no fuss, but this is San Diego) They might have even been able to work in a building like The Honda Center in Anaheim. That could have replaced the Sports Arena and the Civic Theater. Oh well, I’m sure that the expansion that is on the table will look much nicer than a multi-use plan would have,

  5. “Imagine having to walk five blocks between Con panels!”

    Doing some simple geometry, it seems that the diagonal front of the convention center is six blocks long. Toss in the Marriott and the Hilton, and it’s probably ten blocks between the two buildings.

    Marvel will continue to exhibit at CCI, or else they will lose their spot on the exhibition floor.

    I will suggest it again: major exhibitors can easily rent a ballroom at the Hyatt and control their own satellite exhibition. Keep the booth, but direct everyone to the Hyatt where their is a multimedia extravaganza hosted my Disney or Warners. The company controls everything: hours, security, programming. Make it affordable and accessible to everyone who can’t get into CCI, and generate goodwill and amazing publicity! The company could even include “official” dealers or artists, offering exclusives even more exclusive than those found at CCI.

  6. “Imagine having to walk five blocks between Con panels!”

    I think it was once figured that it was a bit more than a half mile from Hall A to Hall H.

  7. This is what i was trying to Explain to some people at Wondercon this week end Disney is hold off on Comic con San diego as far as marvel and star wars go !!!

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