San Diego Comic-Con moving to Los Angeles?

Guess how long Comic-Con has been in San Diego. Ten? Twenty? No, over 40 years! But times are about to change for the major geek convention. Last year, word of expansion for the San Diego Convention Center created hopes of accommodating more content central for Comic-Con attendees. Now with expansion of that very Convention Center halted, others are making bids to get the attention of the Comic-Con International organization.

Not everyone knew the truth however. Last summer, a state appeals court ruled against the plan for expansion. This would have allowed the San Diego Convention Center to expand by a total of 406,000 square feet (225k sq ft of exhibit space, 101k sq ft of meeting space, 80k sq ft ballroom). Comic-Con’s exhibition space is currently at 615,700 square feet while in San Diego, a size which it has easily outgrown if you have attended the venue in the last few years.

“It’s spread out into the local hotels, into their ballrooms and their conference rooms. It’s in the parking lot now. You feel those 130,000 people,” says Variety Senior Editor Marc Graser, noting the abundance of attendees which only grows more each year. Over the last few years I have attended, the entertainment industry has taken to those aforementioned hotels and made their own venue that is thematically aligned with Comic-Con rather than being officially a part of it. Thanks to those 130,000 attendees, it generated $177.8 million for the local economy.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is looking for alternative ways to finance the expansion, given the judgment of the appeals court. But the Mayor faces an equally difficult challenge as the San Diego Chargers are looking to be housed in a combined stadium-convention center construction, which may force the Chargers to move to Los Angeles if it cannot be manifested. The network of hotels opposed this combined construction, an opposition which Comic-Con has supported in the past. The hoteliers are more comfortable with the stadium bordering their interests rather than a combination of said facility.

Currently, top candidates for Comic-Con’s interest are Los Angeles and Anaheim, with Anaheim being the most viable for Comic-Con due to its 815,000 sq ft exhibit hall and being in close proximity to Disneyland. (I remind you that Disney owns Marvel and Star Wars.) Anaheim already hosts Comic-Con’s other convention, WonderCon. While representatives of Anaheim/Orange County Convention Bureau declined to comment on efforts to attract Comic-Con, they noted that they have begun construction of 200,000 sq ft to the convention center. Wait, that’s a bit over 1 million square feet – Whoa. (Side-note, they also spent $2.5 million to ensure that there was free Wi-Fi throughout the Anaheim Convention Center.)

An alternative to the Anaheim Convention Center is the Los Angeles Convention Center. The Los Angeles Tourism and Convention board made its bid, emphasizing its proximity to Hollywood – the Entertainment Capital of the World! It’s also in close proximity to LA Live and its clubs, restaurants, and shops.

“There’s no better way to celebrate comic book and sci-fi heroes, villains, artists, writers, creators, and actors than Comic-Con. And I believe there’s not better place than Los Angeles for a home away from home for this celebration, as L.A. has the hospitality and convention infrastructure to support the show,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., president of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention board.

Los Angeles Convention center has been the home to various major conventions, most notably E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) and Stan Lee’s Comikaze. Unfortunately, Los Angeles has fewer hotel rooms within a mile of the convention compared to San Diego and Anaheim, which is a major selling point when attracting a convention of any city.

Source: Los Angeles Times – Business (January 21, 2015),

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