San Diego Comic-Con is a massive annual event for its host city, and has grown to dizzying heights since its humble beginnings in 1970. The convention draws over 130,000 attendees every year and spills over from San Diego Convention Center into the surrounding area as part of a massive, city-wide event. It’s also globally one of the biggest movie events of the year, especially for mainstream blockbusters based on comic book franchises (and there are quite a lot of those now).
In fact, Comic-Con is getting a little bit too big. In 2012, plans were put in motion to build a $520 million expansion to the convention center, which would increase its available space by 33%. Plans for the extension were speculated to be a considerable factor in Comic-Con International’s 2012 decision to extend its agreement with the city through to 2016, but with recent events putting the extension in a doubtful light, it’s possible that Comic-Con International might have to look for a new home in the future.
The issues arise from a funding plan that would have imposed a levy upon hotels in the area surrounding the convention center. On August 1st, the Fourth District Court of Appeal struck down the proposal, and THR reports that on Tuesday San Diego City Council made the decision not to appeal the ruling. Since the levy would have played a major part in raising funds for the expansion, construction cannot begin until an alternative funding option is in place.
Work on the expansion was originally supposed to begin in late 2014 and to be complete by 2016, but the amount of floor space available inside the convention center isn’t the only factor in deciding whether or not Comic-Con International will remain in the city. San Diego faces competition from Los Angeles and Anaheim, both of which have pursued the convention in the past, but Comic-Con International’s David Glanzer said in a statement to THR that he’s hoping for a solution that will keep the “SD” in SDCC.
“Any decision to remain in San Diego has always been based on a variety of issues, including hotel room rates, available meeting space and other concerns, none of which necessarily override the other. [Comic-Con International is] grateful that the mayor, city officials, hoteliers and convention center staff have worked to help mitigate our space concerns and are happy that we have a continuous dialogue with those entities. We hope there will be a solution that allows Comic-Con to stay in San Diego for years to come.”
Since the convention was born in San Diego and has taken place in San Diego Convention Center since 1991, a move to a completely different city isn’t a decision that the organization is likely to make lightly. While Glanzer’s statement sounds quite positive, however, he does acknowledge that there are “space concerns” and that these require “a solution.”
It would be very sad to see Comic-Con International, which is not only a part of San Diego’s history but also a major boost for the local economy, move to a different city. Fortunately the expansion plans themselves aren’t dead, just in need of funding. If anyone has $520 million to spare, let us know in the comments.