BREAKING: San Diego Comic-Con to Stay in San Diego!

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201009301909 BREAKING: San Diego Comic Con to Stay in San Diego!
It’s official, via a press release. After long, complex negotiations that involved serious offers from Los Angeles and Anaheim, Comic-Con International: San Diego has just announced they will stay in the city they are named for.

With the Con’s contract with the convention center expiring in 2012, and the facilities MAXED out for space, everyone has been wondering if the con would move to a different city that offered more perks, The city of San Diego has been seen as indifferent to the biggest civilian convention of the year, although that has changed in the last couple of years.

This is good news for those who like continuity. You can renew that frequent shopper card at Ralphs!

A press conference is being held tomorrow. PR below:

Comic-Con International: San Diego (Comic-Con), the largest comics convention of its kind in the world, today announced it will be staying in San Diego for the foreseeable future. 

Comic-Con reached a self-imposed attendance limit at the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC) in 2007 and has had to cap attendance at approximately 125,000 people each year since.  In looking at ways to better accommodate the growing demand from attendees and exhibitors, the nonprofit organization considered proposals for a move to larger facilities in Los Angeles or Anaheim after the expiration of its SDCC lease in 2012. This decision keeps Comic-Con in San Diego through 2015.

“We are grateful for the tireless efforts all three cities put into to their proposals,” said David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s director of marketing and public relations. “In the end, we feel this decision is the best for all those who attend Comic-Con and for the organization itself. We are happy that the community has worked with us to ensure that we remain here.”

Comic-Con was first held in 1970 at the U.S. Grant Hotel, where it attracted 300 people. As the event grew, subsequent homes included the downtown El Cortez Hotel in the 1970s and the San Diego Convention and Performing Arts Center in the 1980s. Comic-Con moved to the then newly built SDCC in 1991. Comic-Con celebrated its 41st year in 2010.

The San Diego Convention Center Corporation has scheduled a press conference for Friday, October 1 at 11:45 a.m. at Lobby E of the convention center.


More later.

Comments

  1. Things I would like to see:
    1) large exhibitors moving their mega-booths to nearby hotel ballrooms or other spaces. This would shift some traffic away from the con floor and allow exhibitors to better control their message.

    2) A symbiotic (or parasitic) parallel convention for small press publishers. SPX uses two hotel ballrooms. Place it in a hotel, make attendance free to everyone (for the locals who couldn’t get into CCI), and fulfill the mission which CCI has ignored: promoting the artform, educating the public, and encouraging new talent. Call it SPX West. (Of course, CCI has APE… so they really should do this.)

    3) Satellite events at libraries, schools, parks before and during the Con. Again, free events for people who can’t get into CCI. This creates local goodwill, which can be spent when the next contract is negotiated.

    This 10-day week program, (San Diego Comics Week) starting the Friday before the Con, can eventually be expanded to run from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

    4) Run a parallel Kids Con on Sunday. Freebies for kids, panels and workshops, costumed characters, face painting, Partner with local schools and libraries. Perhaps hold it in the Petco parking lot? A Comics Carnival?

    5) So… how does this affect the expansion plans? Any money available?
    6) Will CCI abandon the Anaheim and Los Angeles trademarks they registered, or capitalize on the sales pitches and open new franchises?

  2. ikaras says:

    I really like the small press free area idea. Gives people a large reason to just wander around and check new things out.

    I don’t know how much large companies would be for not being in the same spot as the big dance. However, one thing I did notice last con was every time I tried to stop and just take in some large display I was either buffeted by people trying to get by or had to tuck myself into some corner of someone else’s area.

    It just wasn’t possible anymore to stop and admire something without putting some thought into it. Forget about the spontaneous hey look over there moments to share with friends.

    It would certainly help large companies if they had a ballroom at a hotel all to themselves.

    I go to CES every year in Vegas, and it is now in different buildings. No problem at all since there are buses to ferry people. Maybe SD could close down streets so the con bus becomes the only thing on the road and so actually somewhat speedy?

  3. I for one am really glad I won’t have to learn where any new stuff is. I’m too old to find the Ralphs (or equivalent) in a different city.

  4. Whew! I was dreading having to drop comic-con if they moved to Anaheim or LA, and willing to live with Vegas… but staying in San Diego is quite a relief!

    As Torsten said, concentrating in a meaningful way on satellite events – presentations, art shows, alternate special-interest cons, whatever – will be key to the future success of SDCC. (So glad I can still call it that!)

  5. Jake Orion says:

    @Torsten Adair;

    You bring up some very thoughtful and helpful solutions to the very problem that is plaguing the Con: overcrowding.

    As many of us already know by attending the con, the crowds have virtually become unbearable. For example, the wait time alone on Saturday to enter Hall H was well over 6 hours, perhaps even greater. If you are not standing in line by six in the morning, I advise you make other plans. But on to your points:

    1) They have already begun. Syfy did not even have a booth inside the convention center this year. However, they did have a large portion of 5th Avenue, including the recreation of Cafe Diem from the TV show Eureka. Many events also took place in the Hard Rock hotel, moved the anime programing to the Marriott, and much more. Also, areas of Petco Park was used to promote the upcoming Green Hornet film. In a year or two time, perhaps the entire downtown San Diego will be involved with the Comic-Con, whether promotions, film/show viewings, and autograph areas.

    2) This is a great idea, and strongly recommend to place this in the new hotel they will build behind the convention center. You can read about more information here: conventioncentertaskforce.org

    3) This relates to issue 1, which has begun to be implemented throughout downtown San Diego. There have been talks about expanding the con to Monday through Sunday, making it a 7 day event. However, these talks are still in the very early stages so my source cannot provide more information.

    4) The only issue with this is parking. Parking at the con is already an issue, and reducing the amount of parking spaces will only make it worse. However, this could be offset by establishing parking at Qualcomm Stadium with free transportation to and from the convention via trolleys and buses.

    5) The convention center has been approved, and is now awaiting approval from the State of California. Again, conventioncentertaskforce.org

    6) Even if Anaheim or Las Vegas manage to obtain the Comic-Con, my source claims, and I quote, “If they move the Con out of San Diego, the committee WILL NOT allow anyone else to establish another Comic-Con in San Diego. If they have to, they will create two conventions.” When people think of Comic-Con, they think of San Diego Comic-Con. The name alone will keep many coming for years to come.

    While we may have a “small” convention center by standards of the Comic-Con, it is in an EXCELLENT location. The airport, rail, buses and beaches are literally five minutes away. Hotels right next door. Night life on 5th Avenue. Watch the Padres right across the street. Weather, some of the best in the US. And much much more. We’ll see how 2015 plays out, because by then, they’ll be at least an additional 45,000 square feet added to the convention center.

  6. Raptorix says:

    It’s not about the convention center but the city that surrounds it!

    I’ve been to conventions in all three mentioned cities, and SDCC is best set in San Diego.

    1) Los Angeles: Anime Expo has comfortably relocated there, and I hold no grudge because I can easily commute to the convention this way. However, the city itself is not a good convention city. Few ‘affordable’ hotels in the area, with fewer restaurants to feed us still. IHop, Dennys, and Subway are swamped for the duration of the weekend. The rest of the restaurants in LA Live are too high-end for the convention attendees. Otherwise smart con-goers bring their own food. The best thing that happened all weekend was that the food trucks caught wind of the demand for affordable easy food and parked across the street in an empty lot.
    Big enough, but bad accomidations, essentially.

    2) Anaheim.
    No shortage of hotels, but is it big enough for us? Anime Expo had to move out of Anaheim as they had a cap of 40k people and their contract had expired. Looking back, I’m not sorry AX had to move, as lovely as a convention center it was.
    I don’t think Disney would be happy with the bleed of convention attendees escaping to find food or a break from the crowds. Imagine the Disney vacation families flabbergasted that every hotel room in all of Anaheim booked solid with ComicCon attendees? Even the Disneyland hotels would be maxed.
    Good accomidations, just too small for a convention that is at least 125k in attendance.

  7. LA NATIVE says:

    The only reason ComicCon is staying in SD is because the board members don’t want to relocate to LA themselves. If I was them, I would have sold the show to Reed already. Once Reed moves it two hours north, because that’s what any good BUSINESSMEN would do, then they can open a new smaller COMICS-ONLY show back in SD. After all, I think most will agree that the multi-million dollar monster that is SDCC has grown too large for what is essentially a mom-and-pop operation.

    In my opinion, SDCC already jumped the shark two years ago. Pretty much every Hollywood A-Lister has already made an appearance. And you know you can’t be caught dead at the same place twice. I predict Justin Beiber to be headlining next year’s show… at which point we will all be wishing Twilight was back instead.

  8. I’m glad to see it stay, though if it moved I would have followed it.

    As for Torsten’s idea of a San Diego-esque Angouleme, I’m all for that, but it would need a wide promotion and deep incentives to fill seats (not just for attendees but also the media). In short, the off-site events can’t be left on the vine to rot.

  9. I honestly didn’t care one way or another whether the con stayed in SD or moved, other than the frustrating lodging issue. The SD hotels have long practiced insane price gouging, and now that they’re ensured they’ll have the con’s business for the forseeable future, they have zero incentive to make a larger block of rooms available at reasonable prices.

    Oh well, I guess that’s capitalism for you.

    Still, the maddening “hotel room dash” really sucks a lot of the joy out of going to the con…

  10. Not to harp too much on the hotel issue, but I just happened to click on one of the “Related Stories:” links at the bottom of the article, and it took me to this May 27 post on The Beat about room costs: “A quick check of Hotels.com, for instance, shows Ramada Gaslamp rooms going for $399 a night during Comic-Con…and $119 a night afterwards.”

    Now, they’re well within their power to do. After all, it comes down to supply and demand. But what it doesn’t engender is customer satisfaction on the part of con attendees, and at some point, you’re going to turn off enough people that it affects the pocketbook of the con organizers. Of course, that point may be 15 years from now, if ever, so maybe the organizers just don’t give a rat’s a** now.

    I’ll be curious to see if the line “We are happy that the community has worked with us to ensure that we remain here” from the PR is just BS, or if there really will be some changes made next year.

  11. I wasn’t referring to CCI moving out of San Diego, but using the trademarks they registered to open new shows in Anaheim and/or Los Angeles.

    Why isn’t there a predominant Movie-Con in the U.S.? Sure, every city with a visitor’s bureau has a film festival, but what about something fan-driven? Like a comic-con, with independent films and blockbusters and displays of costumes and props and sneak previews.

    Hold it in downtown Los Angeles in late April, early May, right before the Summer season starts. Open the show with a premiere at the Nokia Theatre, screen other films at the Regal.

    In Anaheim, start a toy/collectibles show. Anchor it around the Disneyana fans. Again, there isn’t a toy show to balance the Toy Fair trade show.

    In San Francisco, Wonder Con maintains its status as a great comics convention (with some other stuff). APE maintains its reputation as an alternative/small press show.

    San Diego is the mother ship. All of these other shows feed into CCI, making San Diego the coolest place on Earth for one week.

    Oh, and use the smaller hotels in downtown San Diego to encourage new fandoms which aren’t ready-for-the-convention-center. Maybe a hotel’s meeting space could be used by cosplayers and costumers. Or perhaps a hotel could host a fan-fiction workshop. Or an etsy-type craft fair. These sprouts, if successful, then help spread the Con outside of the convention center area. (Do hotels rent out their meeting rooms during the Con, or do they remain empty? If the meeting rooms are rented by the Con, would the hotel offer a discount room rate?)

  12. wayne beamer says:

    Jake: Thanks for your reporting, as it’s far more illuminating than what I’ve read elsewhere including this space.

    LA NATIVE: Your comments about Reed and establishing a comics-only show in SD are far too rational and make too much sense. Yours would be the ideal solution, but it wouldn’t be advantageous to the powers-that-be running Comicon.

    You also bring up an excellent point I’ve asked rhetorically in this space and others, but no one of any funnybook gravitas has had the nerve to openly ask the question: How in the world can an organization running comics shows as large as SDCC and Wondercon ever be considered a NON-PROFIT?

    What’s the diff between the Reeds and Wizards of the world running multimedia pop culture shows, and the Comicon organization running SDCC, Wondercon and APE? The answer: Not a whole lot from where I sit. I wonder if/when California and/or the IRS will be asking the same thing…

  13. “How in the world can an organization running comics shows as large as SDCC and Wondercon ever be considered a NON-PROFIT?”

    I have no knowledge about the operations of this company, but I assume the answer is: because it’s designed not to pay dividends to owners or shareholders, and is registered as a 501(c)(3) (that number’s from memory — might be wrong). If you’re implying they’re mismanaging or pocketing money, that’s a pretty serious charge. BTW, California is about the most aggressive state around when it comes to tax collecting.

  14. wayne beamer says:

    Stuart,

    I thought they were a 501(c) non-profit too, and I’m NOT implying there’s any sticky finger business going on at all.

    If anything, like LA Native said, the 2010 SDCC show is MUCH BIGGER in every way, but the mom-and-pop non-profit operation that was running things when I started going regularly in 1993 may not be.

    AND, I just see don’t many outward differences between SDCC and for-profit entities running C2E2 and the NYCC shows. Maybe, a little transparency would help to explain the differences between both, cause I don’t see it.

    H

  15. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Wayne, I don’t know what you’re getting at. Steppenwolf Theater became a non-profit when it was operating out of Gary Sinise’s living room or whatever, and I think still is today. It’s a way of conducting business, not a way of limiting one’s success. The last time I had my hands on CCI’s various public papers the salaries seemed modest and the revenues seemed reasonable to me.

  16. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Also, I’ve been suggesting someone try a small press show nestled right up against the larger CCI show for a few years now. I have no idea if it would work or not, but it’d be fascinating to watch.

  17. Non profit DOES NOT MEAN the organization “can’t” earn money. Many non profits are extraordinarily profitable. The “non profit” designation comes into play as to what the organization can do with the money it earns (and hence be eligible for that tax exempt status): it may not accrue that money to the benefit of any individual beyond reasonable compensation (eg, if you are employed by a nonprofit, you can certainly be paid a salary). The nonprofit has to provide a public benefit via a couple of specified methods and is restricted from certain activity such as lobbying for particular legislation or elected officials.

    If you go read up the code (501(c)3, it lays it all out pretty clearly –> http://tinyurl.com/22ch8

    Anyway, I live in SD and invite a certain group of friends to stay with me when they go to ComicCon :)

  18. wayne beamer says:

    Tom: Apples and oranges on Stepphenwolf. Better to compare WW or NYCC to SDCC, don’t you think?

    I’m no economist or CEO, but what makes SDCC a non-profit but the other guys not? I’ve heard similar things about the salary structure among Comicon workers, because non-profits generally don’t pay beans (been there, done that too).

    When an organization generates about $12.5 million on convention tickets alone, not to mention all the convention space sales, I think it’s worth asking where that money goes. And what makes one a non-profit and the other not.

  19. wayne beamer says:

    Anon: Thanks for the link! And about that spare room during Comicon next year… ;)

    Since you know more about this stuff than I do, don’t you think it’s odd that SDCC is still a non-profit? Especially since Heidi mentioned that another group is looking to buy CC, make it a “for-profit” and move it to LV. If this business group perceives SDCC to be a profit-making vehicle, doesn’t that beg the question…

  20. Tom Spurgeon says:

    No, Wayne, that’s not apples and oranges. I’m giving you an example of an extremely successful non-profit that operates alongside for-profits and has the same kind of success trajectory, the kind of thing which you seem to be asserting can’t or shouldn’t exist. The fact is, they exist in tons of places, and a broad argument against one of them has to engage with that fact.

    Go read a Wikiepedia entry or something if you don’t know how they function or why some groups can be non-profit and other can be for-profit and still operate alongside one another and it’s not some grand conspiracy. You clearly have no idea what non-profit means or how they operate. If it’s still burning your butt, non-profits file a ton of paperwork and CCI does, too. I’ve read them in past years.

    When you suggest something is wrong with no basis other than a broad misunderstanding, and more knowledgeable people suggest that, no, what you’re suspicious of is not wrong, and is in fact a fairly typical thing, please bring something more to the table than re-stating your initial suspicions. Otherwise you’re fostering broad and nasty insinuations without basis against your target.

  21. Tom Spurgeon says:

    And of course massively successful non-profits usually encounter and/or struggle with the question of becoming for-profits; that doesn’t automatically mean there’s anything sneaky or suspicious about their being non-profits.

  22. Here’s this article of a coupl of years back that pretty thoroughly looks at the non-profit issue for CCI.

    http://legacy.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20070725-9999-1n25charity.html

    It would be good if they had more information about that on their web site, though.

  23. Calvin Reid says:

    I think it’s more likely that hell will freeze over before the organizers would sell San Diego Comic-con to Reed Exhibitions. Good Lord! CCI seems to be a very effeciently run nonprofit and the revenue it generates is put back into the organization. Good for them and let’s be thankful that the show is not moving.

  24. wayne beamer says:

    Tom: What Lee Whiteside said. And I’m not the only one who wonders about it.

    Don’t agree one iota with your Steppenwolf example, so indulge me for a second on one of mine, so maybe you’ll understand what I’m seeing from a philosophical POV.

    I hear these arguments posited about a different realm — college football — on sports talk. And like the invasion of big media conglomerates taking over the SDCC pool, there’s no denying the infusion of TV money has changed how college football works. And, enough to make one wonder what it means to be an amateur athlete today at a huge school like UT and USC.

    Lots of folks would argue that Reggie Bush was right in giving back the Heisman cause his folks profited by him being such a superstar stud at USC. Of course, he didn’t get paid a dime for all those 25 jerseys he sold when he was at USC. You can argue that he got a free education, but the fact remains that all that Monopoly money thrown at CF changed the sport and what it means to be an amateur. Forever.

    Lee: Thanks for the article, as that answered my questions and voiced some of my exact concerns about SDCC’s non-profit status from people who know lots more about non-profits than I do, aka Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy.

    Although I’m wondering if SDCC made $4.9 million from convention booth sales and admissions in 2004, those numbers have to be far bigger in 2010. By my calcs, 75,000 paid attendees times $100 = $7.5 million.

  25. wayne beamer says:

    Calvin: You’ve always impressed me as the voice of reason about comics and other things.

  26. Jake Orion says:

    @wayne beamer

    You’re welcome. Even though I’m a San Diego native and I am biased about keeping the Comic-Con in San Diego, I try to maintain a neutral perspective on what is best for everyone.

    Regarding some of the posts on here, some have a point: the San Diego Comic-Con shouldn’t even be considered a “Comic-Con” anymore. It is more in line as a Culture Con. I was there the year Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, and Hugh Jackman showed up back to back to back. The following year, the Comic-Con EXPLODED in attendance. After that, I considered that year the Con lost its “innocence”, meaning it had lost its true purpose of promoting comic books, artists, and so forth.

    The problem now is the name has established itself as the Con to go to. Even if the committee develops a movie/show con in another location, San Diego has established itself as an area where the convention center location is perhaps the most ideal spot in the world. Again, literally everything you want is 5 minutes away from you, whether driving or walking. From the convention center attendees I spoke with, a majority have been unanimous of keeping the Con in San Diego just for the simple fact of everything is literally so close. Someone stated earlier about the Anime Expo where smart attendees will bring their own food. With Comic-Con, there is no need.

    Going off of Torsten Adair idea, I believe the smartest decision for the Comic-Con organization to do is create a separate Culture Con AFTER the Comic-Con. Two different cons at the same location, over the course of two weeks; Comic-Con, go back to the grass roots and ideals of what it was originally intended, followed by the Culture Con, where all the movie stars and so attend. Now, we are in a position to either choose our cons or attend both; one to please the comic book buffs, the other to please the general masses.

  27. [Is it safe to post again? Damn the hacked Fields--- full Comment ahead!]

    So. Comic-Con stays in San Diego for another 3 years past the 2012 current contract’s end?
    SURPRISE, SURPRISE.

    As it were,the triennial CCI/City of San Diego
    contract renewal “movie” reached its usual and expected conclusion, with the two partners embracing at the fade-out, strings swelling in the credits as the lights come back up…

    But what elsedid you expect? The only twist in this reiteration was the drawn march to the conclusion that added some needed excitement to the plot’s 4th act— and much to the dismay of Anaheim and LA boosters, the 5th act merely confirmed the formula struck in the previous 2,3,4 versions of the “movie”.
    Same old, same old.

    Can’t wait for the 2013 version to hit the (computer) screens once again and start the commenting cycle anew— I hear it’s gonna be in IMAX 3-D!!! Till then, analytic ‘reviews’
    such as the Comments above will have to provide the entertainment…

    Pass the popcorn.

  28. wayne beamer says:

    Jake: Do you think SD can find the money to expand the Convention Center? I’ve assumed, albeit from a distance, that if the Chargers can’t get a stadium built for them, how can SD afford an addition to the CC? They can’t certainly justify the addition, but paying for it is a different matter altogether.

    I like the split con idea, as mentioned by you and others as well too!

  29. wayne beamer says:

    Jake: Do you think SD can find the money to expand the Convention Center? I’ve assumed, albeit from a distance, that if the Chargers can’t get a stadium built for them, how can SD afford an addition to the CC? They can’t certainly justify the addition, but paying for it is a different matter altogether.

  30. We haven’t expanded our Convention Center yet, but good news, our Ralphs just got remodeled! It’s not nearly as skanky anymore!
    And the reason we CAN round up the money for the expansion is that it is the only good investment we have EVER made.

    Ballparks and stadiums lose money- it’s a frill that doesn’t really bring more people to the games. Our Convention Center on the other hand DOES bring more people.

  31. But what elsedid you expect? The only twist in this reiteration was the drawn march to the conclusion that added some needed excitement to the plot’s 4th act— and much to the dismay of Anaheim and LA boosters, the 5th act merely confirmed the formula struck in the previous 2,3,4 versions of the “movie”.
    Same old, same old.

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