Comic-Con Extends San Diego Stay Through 2015

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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San Diego, CA – Through a combination of discounts, unspecified incentives and an agreement by hotels to expand room blocks, San Diego’s convention industry signed Comic-Con International to a new contract keeping the high-profile event at the San Diego Convention Center through 2015.

Comic-Con had been considering a move north to Los Angeles or Anaheim after 2012 in order to take advantage of the larger convention facilities and hotel inventory. The show, which recently enjoyed its highest-profile annual convention to date, originated in San Diego more than 40 years ago.

Comic-Con is open to the public and draws attendees from across the U.S. Many, however, travel at their own expense. A study by the San Diego Convention Center Corporation (SDCCC) using 2008 data revealed that more than half of the show’s attendees stay in hotels an average of four nights at a rate of $199 per night. That adds up to 126,000 room nights. The agency estimated the direct spending from the 2013-2015 Comic-Cons at more than $203 million, including 378,000 room nights.

“We are grateful to the hospitality community who came together and committed themselves to this effort,” said Carol Wallace, SDCCC president and CEO.

The concessions to Comic-Con, which takes place in the height of San Diego’s Summer tourist season, may pay significant dividends to the hoteliers down the road if it helps push through a proposed expansion of the convention center.

The size and profile of Comic-Con have been turned into a rallying point for an eventual expansion of the convention center, which would position it to host larger events. The city’s long-running budget woes, however, have made the expenditure of public funds on an expansion, which would include 200,000 square feet of exhibit space alone, a tough sell to the public.

With Comic-Con’s exhibits straining the limits of the current facility, the benefits of an expansion can be better illustrated. “San Diego beat out some stiff competition and the importance of expanding the convention center has been clearly demonstrated,” said Bob Nelson, chairman of the SDCCC board of directors. “Comic-Con’s challenges fitting into the current facility underscore the importance of efforts to expand.”

Reach Carol Wallace at (619) 525-5000 or carol.wallace@visitsandiego.com; Bob Nelson at (619) 269-7415 or bnelson@bnassociates.com