Comic-Con Commits to San Diego through 2018

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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San Diego, CA – The city of San Diego pulled together a citywide commitment for hotel and event space that was enough to keep the high-profile Comic-Con International in town through 2018.

The organizers of Comic-Con International agreed in early July to a two-year extension of the pact that has kept the annual fan-centric event in San Diego since its low-profile launch in a downtown hotel basement 45 years ago.

“We have grown up in San Diego and are excited to have reached an agreement that will keep us here through 2018,” said Marketing Director David Glazner. “We worked hand in hand with Mayor (Kevin) Faulconer, hoteliers and the tourism industry, which will allow us to continue delivering our dynamic convention in San Diego.”

The announcement was made at the opening of the 2015 Comic-Con, which drew roughly 130,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibiting companies to San Diego’s downtown Gaslamp district and filled up more than 465,000 net sf of exhibit space at the San Diego Convention Center.

While details of the major points of the agreement were not made public, the website Voice of San Diego reported that event space at various downtown hotels was provided to Comic-Con exhibitors free of charge.

The growth of Comic-Con has put a strain on event space and hotel inventory. The event was previously committed to San Diego through next year, which resulted in a concerted effort by Los Angeles and Anaheim to lure Comic-Con away in future years from its long-time home. AEG Facilities announced in June that a similar fan event, Anime Expo, had agreed to extend its stay at the Los Angeles Convention Center by five years through 2019.

Mayor Faulconer had made keeping Comic-Con a priority of his administration. The newly elected mayor made a splashy entrance at the opening of last year’s Comic-Con on a zip line. Accommodating the growth of Comic-Con has also been a key talking point of proponents of a planned expansion of the convention center.

The hotel strategy for San Diego has been somewhat more complicated for the consumer show than it would be for a standard citywide trade show. Summer brings in a steady stream of tourists, and many Comic-Con attendees are traveling on their own dime rather than an expense account. San Diego media reported a brisk business for residents renting out rooms and even sofa space to Comic-Con visitors.

The three-page list of hotels in the 2015 Comic-Con room block includes inns more than six miles from the convention centers with nightly rates ranging from $180 for a single person at a Best Western up to $380 for a two-person room at the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter.

Comic-Con International is the San Diego Convention Center’s largest event of the year and is estimated to generate $80.4 million in direct attendee spending, tax revenues of $2.8 million and an economic impact of $135.9 million to the region.

Reach David Glazner, Comic-Con marketing director, at (619) 414-1020 or pr@comic-con.org