Comic-Con International, the event that brings people of all shapes, sizes, action hero and comic book preferences to San Diego, could be leaving its birthplace for a larger home, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Although locals might complain about overcrowded downtown in the month of July, the truth is San Diego businesses wouldn’t have it any other way.
Although these cities can offer more spacious venues -- some closer to Hollywood where most Comic-Con’s celebrities and movie directors flourish -- San Diego advocates argue Comic-Con attendees won’t get as memorable an experience as they do now at the bayfront Convention Center.
“Comic-Con is a homegrown, San Diego-born, bred and maintained entity,” Mayor Jerry Sanders' deputy press secretary Bill Harris told Variety Magazine. “We are going to continue to work with Comic-Con to accommodate their growth needs in any way we can.”
The risk of possibly losing the pop culture phenomenon that generates tens of millions of dollars in local spending for the city each year has prompted hoteliers to double the number of rooms they commit to Comic-Con and provide free meeting space for the gathering that sells out months in advance and has a long waiting list for exhibitors, the paper reported.
In addition to expanding the number of reserved hotel rooms, three of San Diego’s waterfront hotels -- the Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego Marriott and Hilton San Diego Bayfront -- have reportedly committed to providing roughly 300,000 square feet of their meeting space free of charge in 2013 to 2015, assuming there is no change of location.
Although heavy traffic and parking shortages -- not to mention the real-life characters that roam the streets of downtown -- can be a headache for locals during the event, Comic-Con offers a huge economic benefit to, not only downtown hotels, but also Gaslamp Quarter restaurants.
“It would kill the month of July if they weren’t here,” Ingrid Croce, owner of Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar, told the paper. “It’s like having Mardi Gras, the Super Bowl and Disneyland all at the same time. They want an experience that’s memorable, and that’s what San Diego delivers. I’m not sure they’d get that in Orange County.”
If Comic-Con departs, so would 126,000 attendees who boost the bottom line. The San Diego Convention Center Corp. recently sent a proposal to Comic-Con seeking to extend its contract through 2015.
However, lack of space is the main concern.
A task force is leading an aggressive campaign, but according to the Union-Tribune, it's unclear if it will be enough to stave off a competing bid from Anaheim.