Should the Con move?

We have many thoughts on the subject, but in the meantime, here’s a play by play:

With 125,000 people attending the San Diego Comic Con, the city of San Diego is bursting at the seems. With a limit on the number of people that can get into the convention hall, and growth expected, is it time for Comic Con International to move the show somewhere else?

Comments

  1. Should the con move, no.

  2. It shouldn’t move, but someone should try to get a little better handle on it. It’s more like Movie Con. (and F you “real” comic book fans. Keep it movin’) Still, I saw some great stuff there. Marvel Comics’ booth kicked ass.

  3. Once the movie companies jump ship and they will, it’s a fad for them. Then you’ll see a scramble to full up the space with comics books again, and who knows maybe the small press guys will be ask to come in. I wonder if the con can make it with out the movies guys there.

  4. Two words: Las Vegas.

  5. I’m still all about the Las Vegas move.

    And fad? Their presence has been growing each year for how long now? They had a pretty big presence after BATMAN FOREVER, too. Hollywood wanting to snatch up every comic book property for a movie might be a fad, but their presence at SDCC isn’t. And that presence would carry if the convention moved to a bigger space.

  6. Lenny Riggio says:

    Angouleme solves this problem (and hosts a convention for 3 times as many comics fans in a much smaller city) by having multiple convention venues and even temporary buildings. San Diego should do the same. Of course, this would require San Diego to see the con as a positive, something worth investing in. But the payoff could be huge–multiple venues (with the convention center remaining the main venue) would help disperse con-goers throughout the city. That broadens the benefit to the cities bars and restaurants beyond those within walking distance of the convention center. And, if in future years the con shrinks, it can easily be scaled back (if necessary).

  7. Tom S says:

    There is a simple way to solve this problem. Otakon has solved it for them (they don’t realize it, yet). Otakon is the second largest anime convention in the country and they ran into this problem in 2004. They solved in one way San Diego does by capping attendance. The other way they solved it is by selling only four day passes. You have to commit to more than a day of the convention. THat may reduce attendance by 20,000 or so, but would let everyone their have room to breathe.

  8. Torsten Adair says:

    The German city of Hannover has a convention CITY of over 20 buildings which has been used to host a World’s Fair and which hosts CeBIT, E3 on steroids. (The public is invited.) Las Vegas could do this by hosting the main show at their convention center, with satellite shows at various hotel convention centers. Each Tribe could have their own hotel, and interests not now well served by the Con (costumers, Society For Creative Anachronism, modelers) could be included. There could even be an Adults Only area, far away from the others, perhaps at MGM.
    As for Hollywood, why not stage an event right after the annual Up Fronts? Hourly panels could feature pilots. TV Land could sponsor retrospectives. Movies and DVDs and animation and short films and workshops and…
    CCI does promote the indy press. They do offer a comics only con. They just don’t do it at San Diego. SDCC has always had multimedia programming. What percentage is open to debate.

  9. John Tebbel says:

    Do I mind that I am alone, in the wilderness, speaking the truth? Did Edison take naps? I still say: Anaheim. As you were.

  10. Vegas

  11. Torsten Adair says:

    Anaheim has 815,000 sq.ft. of exhibit space. Meeting and ballroom: 130,000. Ballroom: 38,000.

    San Diego: Halls A-H: 525,701 72 meeting rooms: 204,114 (Ballroom 6: 40,955 sq. ft.) plus pavillion space

    Los Angeles: 720,000 sq ft exhibition; 147,000 sq ft meeting.

    Las Vegas: (136,000 guest rooms, 9.7 MILLION sq. ft. total in the city)
    Sixteen exhibit halls (1,940,631 sq.ft.) 144 meeting rooms (241,000) many rooms can be configured into larger (20K+ sq.ft.) rooms. (There are also the Mandalay Bay and Sands convention centers.)

    Anaheim sounds nice, except for one BIG elephant in the room: Disneyland. What is the hotel occupancy during a typical summer weekend? Subtract that from hotel rooms, now add 50,000 guests.

    Spin the media off into a new con, earlier in the season, probably in Anaheim. San Diego is still the big Con-glomerate (sorry, couldn’t resist), but some of the press-ure (heh) can be reduced if Hollywood is not tossing everything against the wall to see what sticks.

  12. No. The convention center should expand.

  13. I talked with several locals this weekend who seemed quite anxious about the possibility that the con might leave. In contrast to that article from a month or so ago that portrayed us as “low-rent,” it seems the Gaslamp area really does want to keep us around.

    Speaking of the Gaslamp district, you’re not going to find that concentration of good restaurants near the LA convention center. And in Vegas, everything’s so big that you practically have to walk half a mile to get from one end of a casino to the other.

    The hardest thing to fix is hotel rooms. Parking is nasty, but mainly because it’s spread out across the downtown area. I heard they opened the lots at Petco Park this year since there weren’t any games this weekend, but I just left my car in the hotel lot the whole time.

    If they expanded programming into neighboring hotel meeting rooms, it could ease some of the congestion. And I’m not sure they even use some of the upstairs rooms on the harbor side of Ballroom 20.

    And a pedestrian bridge or two over the railroad tracks, somewhere in the middle. The bottleneck points at either end of the convention center, with a street and railroad blocking both, are really bad for trying to get in and out of the convention center.

  14. If SDCC can’t expand spatially, how about temporally? Make it a 6-day show. Allow some booths to be split into 3-day rentals, also sell 3-day passes along with 6-day passes.

  15. Templesmith says:

    Naw, but it is time for the badly organized and corrupt as hell City of San Diego to do something any other western civilization would have done several years ago and PUT A PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE ACROSS THOSE RAIL LINES.

    They’ll do one for the balpark, with it’s tiny crowds, but not for the biggest money maker San Diego city actually has.

    Poo to them I say! Poo!

  16. Didn’t I just read recently that Comic-con has a contract through 2012, and that San Diego promised before that contract was signed to expand the convention center by that date? Seems that by 2011 or so, we should know if the City is going to keep its word. If so, problem solved. If not, I say “see you in Vegas!”

    PS – Yeah, no pedestrian bridge over the train track is pretty dumb. But then, the whole layout of that area is kind of wonky, especially for traffic in front of the Con Center.

  17. Yes the convention is too huge and would be huger (?) if more people could fit in (I wonder how many people would have come if they didn’t tap it at 125,000?). Ask Mark Evanier why the convention won’t move to Vegas. The Hollywood presence isn’t going away (as long as it’s in San Diego – it may if it moved to Vegas), but seriously a person could just spend all of their time all of the days at the comic part of the convention and still not get through all of that (sure some areas are insane to get through to get to the comic areas). What small press wasn’t there that should have been (seriously just about all comic companies big and small know they almost have to come to this show)?

    I, myself, even though I had a good time, am thinking about skipping next year and making the San Francisco Wonder Con my main convention as it’s the size that the San Diego convention was from 1999 until about 2002 or 2003 before it exploded. I just get overwhelmed easily and get sad when I can’t do everything.

  18. Alan Coil says:

    Dirk Manning loves Las Vegas.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Moving the show to Vegas won’t be good. They had a comics convention just a few years ago, and it failed miserably.

    San Diego is the best place to hold a summer convention because the weather isn’t too harsh.

  19. “Moving the show to Vegas won’t be good. They had a comics convention just a few years ago, and it failed miserably.”

    New York, Philadelphia, Chicago … all have had comic cons that failed. So why are comic cons still being held in those cities?

    Viva Las Vegas … if someone can do a better job or organizing and promoting, they can have a show in Vegas.

  20. Mark Coale says:

    I think everyone must have a “stuck on the wrong side of the train” story.

    Probably like ten years ago, I was stuck on the non-convention center side with, if I remember right, among others, Mark Evanier, Stan Sakai and Jeff Smith. There had been some small press kinda thing at one of the hotels and we were all making our way back to the convention center when the train came by.

  21. John Tebbel says:

    SD Train bridge/tunnel sounds pretty doable, convention center expansion less so though governments can surprise. If they make it longer, like last time, they might as well not bother.

    Thanks for the figures to Thorsten! Do the Anaheim figures count the ice rink place where I saw the circus once? I’d like to use that, too, if I could. I think Disney, etc, could do the crowd thing, or at least could say what they think?

    All LA area people will commute, they like that sort of thing acc. to Randy Newman. And LA, WestHo, etc. rooms all count.

    Bringing the SD crowd to Vegas is immoral along the lines of the Children’s Crusade.

    And we need to start thinking about remote viewing of panels. Why crowd in one room if you’re watching a screen anyway? It could be like the space academy in R is for Rocket. Or a well run sports book.

  22. I’m pretty sure I read an interview with a Con bigwig talking about the proposed convention center expansion. They would have to “go longer” because it would be hard to expand towards the water or towards the train tracks.I hope expansion happens before the contract expires and puts to rest all of this “other city” nonsense. San Diego is a great, great city to visit and I can’t imagine duplicating the experience in Las Vegas or Anaheim (shudder). My wife went for the first time and had an absolute blast–so much so that we spent an hour in line yesterday buying tickets for next year. An hour!

    We talked about skywalks over the trains, too! But really, what train took more than a few minutes to go through? Our city has a number of skywalks. With four real seasons, we need ‘em!

  23. Mark Coale says:

    There is/was a train that went out front of the Convention Center at night that could last at least 30 minutes.

  24. wayne beamer says:

    After spending five days at Comicon, I’m still on the fence about whether staying in San Diego or moving to another city, a la Las Vegas, is a good idea.

    Of course, the numbers Torsten quoted make a very compelling case for the “nonprofit educational organization dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular art forms” moving to Las Vegas. If you like walking from the show to your hotel, however, I’d stay in SD. And, the ocean views are better in SD too…

    A concept that would certainly make Comicon a much more interesting show, albeit one that Convention organizers would likely nix because they are Californians and enjoy the local monopoly of hosting the fanboy version of the Super Bowl in their back yard EVERY YEAR:

    Have Comicon become a traveling show that cities in the U.S. of A. can bid to host, as the CES has done in the past. Who thinks world class cities like Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles WOULDN’T and COULDN’T host Comic-Con? Rotate the Fanboy “Super Bowl” by having San Diego host it in even years, and try other locations in odd years.

    Professional organizations, big and small, that host national meetings almost ALWAYS rotate locations to get the best deal possible for their organization and the people who pay for the privilege to attend them. In fact, why should SD city fathers negotiate a better deal or work with convention organizers AT ALL if the latter does nothing but stay put?

    Wonder how the SD Chamber of Commerce would explain losing Comic-Con, one of the biggest consumer shows in the U.S, to Vegas or Chicago. I’d love to see the Comicon folks handle THAT PROBLEM!

    What do y’all think?

    Wayne

  25. I’d really like to see the area immediately adjacent to the LA Convention center absorb a comic-con size crowd. In a word, it won’t. Meanwhile, San Diego has a gaspingly hungry restaurant/bar district right across the tracks just waiting to give thirsty con-goers a place to put up their feet. Templesmith is completely right in the dire need for a pedestrian overpass there, though. But I wonder how often the convention center actually hosts crowds that would demand that sort of use?

    Tired. Very tired.

  26. Gawd, you Las Vegas support people are beginning to sound like a broken record.

    Yeah, let’s have the damn convention in Las Vegas!

    Show up with your damn surfboard and see what happens.

    ~

    Coat

  27. Having been to SIGGRAPH conferences at San Diego, LA (twice), Austin and a couple other locations, as well as other large conferences at NYC (4 times), Austin, Las Vegas, etc., I much prefer the San Diego location for Comic-Con.

    Maybe Comic-Con could become a bit more segmented like SXSW did for a bit with music, movies, technology (it’s been awhile since I’ve had the need to attend that so I’m not sure what it’s like these days) with a couple of key days for movie panels (like SIGGRAPH’s Exhibition 3-days) at the beginning or end of the Con, and 3-4 days of comics writing/art/production focused panels. Comic-Con could be spread over 6 days then instead of 4…

  28. Las Vegas in the middle of July? Hell on earth, I tell you. (And this is coming from someone who hiked Death Valley in June.) I don’t think I could survive the Con in Las Vegas… the SD beaches, breezes, and weather is just too nice.

  29. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Las Vegas would be HORRIBLE, and I love Vegas. I spend several days in Las Vegas every year. Every other year I go to San Diego and then Las Vegas for a couple of days. But no matter how much I like it there, a CCI-LV would suck a bone. I cry even thinking about the cab line at McCarron on Wednesday evening of Comic-Con Vegas.

    For one thing — OF ABOUT THREE MILLION — the favorite activity of most con-goers is standing around and talking, and the entire city is designed to thwart this. I don’t believe too many people dislike the con-goers as much as some believe, but in Vegas they’d openly hate the con-goers.

    Although I have to admit it would be funny to have a convention in Las Vegas where they ran the figures and found out only $342.76 was spent on gambling by all 175,000 attendees combined.

    Plus I would totally kill if I could bet on the Eisners.

  30. I think most exhibitors would hate to have it in Vegas. There’s too much competition for dollars. At least I would hate it. Plus, 5 days in Vegas would make me want to kill myself and I actually like Vegas …for about 48 hours.

    Keep it in San Diego, but get rid of some of the things that have nothing to do with comics, like soft core porn (again, I like some porn, but there are separate shows for that). The focus needs to return to comics.

  31. Chris says:

    I haven’t been to San Diego and the SDCC is almost ten years but couldn’t they temporarily dock a cruise ship right next to the convention center.

    It would augment the amount of convention space and hotel rooms.

  32. Chris says:

    I haven’t been to San Diego and the SDCC is almost ten years but couldn’t they temporarily dock a cruise ship right next to the convention center.

    It would augment the amount of convention space and hotel rooms.

  33. TChav says:

    Vegas

  34. barry says:

    VEGAS VEGAS VEGAS VEGAS VEGAS

  35. saipaman says:

    Here’s something that would improve the Comic-Con experience without moving — simply ban the give away of “free items” from the opening of the exhibit hall until, say, noon.

    That would keep the place cleared out in the morning so that dealers could actually sell stuff to the “hardcore” fans that see Comic-Con as a purchasing trip (On Tuesday, I watched my friend UPS home 112 pounds of comics and paperbacks) and still provide plenty of opportunities for the casual fan to sweep up the swag and make the random purchase.

    Oh yes, and if you’re one of the few that stopped in at the film festival, I salute you.

  36. My main concern is traffic and hotel rooms.

    San Diego has become ridiculous. The buses that ferry folks between the hotels and the con are sometimes hours late in the morning from all the traffic and the hotels are outrageously overpriced… IF you can score one.
    My friends and I had to pay for a cab ride every morning and the cabbie would have to drop us off several blocks from the con as not to get stuck in traffic and the weather when I was there was balmy and gross.

    Vegas has a tram that goes OVER the street to the con center making it so renting a car for the weekend, parking it somewhere and taking the tram isn’t an impossibility.

    The Convention center is HUGE, there are hotels everywhere and folks from California drive there ALL THE TIME. Next time you are there count the California licence plates to the Vegas plates.

    If the con does decide to move Vegas is the only rational place.

  37. Nicholaus R. Buthmann says:

    To refer to Las Vegas as Hell on Earth in the middle of summer, is true and still an understatement. It is freaking hot!! Any one dressed in a full cosplay outfit, would have to be insane not to consider how seriously uncomfortable and downright dangerous doing so in Vegas in the middle of summer would be. I could just picture the steady stream of AMR and Vegas F.D. Ambulances running Code 3, all over the Strip and Glitter Gulch. Having to rush severely Heat Stroked cosplayers to Clark County General’s ER. It wouldn’t be pretty I assure you. I could just picture a Naruto Cosplayer suffering delerium from such bad heat stroke he’s imagining the Vegas F.D. medic girl is Madame Tsunade working on him all the way to the ER. Plus the guy that said, that Vegas doesn’t have anything like the Gaslamp District has a good point too. Vegas’s resturaunts are nice too, but they’re to damn difficult to get to. Those Hotels are way to huge and difficult to get around in. Plus, McCarren Airport, from what I hear is a real pain in the ass to get around in and out of. Not that that usually effects me anyeay, as I try to always ride “Amtrak”. I might pass it onto everyone who wishes to read this. Think like a Japanese or European Comic Convention goer. Go by Train whenever you can and take public transportation to get to you Hotel/Motel/Youth Hostel from the Rail Terminal. If it’s nightime in downtown L.A. and your from out of town then you can call a cab.

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