2016 & Beyond: Will Comic-Con Stay in San Diego?

Conventions

Lately there has been a lot of buzz over whether or not Comic-Con will be staying in San Diego. Let’s face the facts, CCI has grown too big to remain in San Diego under the current facilities. Plans to build expansions onto the convention center have been long in the works but a number of factors have prevented them from starting construction.

It’s no secret that Comic-Con makes San Diego A LOT of moneys. It is also no secret that other towns in SoCal are trying to lure the con away from SD and into their buildings, so there has been talks in the last day or so that San Diego’s tourism and convention center leaders are set to present the con’s organizers with a contract that would keep the July event in town through 2016.

Currently Comic-Con International is contracted to stay in San Diego through 2015 as the convention center expansion gets underway, but recent political issues in the area threaten to not have this $520 million undertaking completed by then.

It is also rumored that in a recent meeting with Comic-Con chiefs, members of the Convention Center, San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, and representatives from the local hotels stuck up a conversation on the potential of a contract that would keep the con in SD an additional three years.

“They hemmed and hawed and then said you can prepare a contact for 2016 and we’ll consider that but beyond 2016, we’re not interested unless there’s a shovel in the ground so that (an expanded center) is available by 2017,” said Joe Terzi, CEO of the Visitors Bureau, which will be taking over the booking of the convention center on July 1.

“We’ll work with the hotels and prepare a document for them to look at. There are a lot of others who want that business, so we’re committed to getting 2016 signed so we don’t have to worry about another year.”

Director of Marketing for Comic-Con International David Glanzer has yet to comment on whether CCI plans to consider signing a contract beyond 2015. Terzi has stated that he has a feeling that organizers will sign a contract if a document is tempting enough.

But San Diego’s businessmen are very aware that they aren’t the only ones whispering sweet nothings into the Con’s ear. Anaheim is also planning to expand its convention center and they are making it a point to make sure Comic-Con organizers are regularly informed of its progress.

“We have a relationship with the people who run Comic-Con, so as we approach our expansion, we’ll keep them aware of our progress to let them know we’re bigger and better,” said Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau. “We think ours will be done in 2015, and we have funding for it.

Nabbing Comic-Con, he said, would be “a wonderful plum for Anaheim.”

But this is nothing new. After being flirted with by Los Angeles and Anaheim for years, Comic-Con organizers in 2010 agreed to stay in San Diego past 2012, signing a three-year contract through 2015.

Since then, San Diego’s leaders have been pulling out all the stops to make sure an expansion of the waterfront convention center happens, financing it with an increase in the local room tax recently approved by San Diego hoteliers. If the financing plan passes legal muster and the project wins approval from the California Coastal Commission, an expanded center could open by 2017.

Meanwhile, the city of San Diego and its residents will continue to roll out the welcome mat to the near 140,000 fans who pour into their city as the quaint city by the water becomes the center of the entertainment world once again.

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