We may stay in San Diego with or without an expanded center

17 NOVEMBER 2014

For a few years now we've been hearing about the expanded convention center. When would it happen? How many people would it hold? Where would we go if it didn't happen?

We all know the planned expansion is on hold, but the idea that SDCC might just up and take itself to a different city with a bigger venue has always lingered tantalizingly in the air. However, that possibility looks like so much dust now.

CCI has officially said - in the voice of David Glanzer - that an expanded center "is not a must" for staying in San Diego: “An expansion would be great for the city and us, but if it doesn’t happen we’ve been able to make do without it, and if we can mitigate the concerns we do have we’ll be able to stay here.”

What? We're going to struggle through a severely capped Registration Day forever? It's never going to get better??

Some of those "concerns" have to do with hotel room rates and space at satellite venues. Yawn. I do like that San Diego is plotting new ways to hold onto Comic-Con but it's not exactly a surprise - we're an annual summer gift to the local economy and many business owners and politicians are keen to keep us around.

This article details a few of the efforts being made on our behalf:

  • Asking local hotels to keep their rates at 2016 levels for 2017-2018. So far almost 30 of the 50ish hotels in the SDCC block have agreed.

  • "Major waterfront convention hotels" - wild guess, that would be the Hilton Bayfront, Marriott Marquis and Hyatt - will offer meeting space.

  • The convention center will offer a discounted rent, which this year was nearly 200,000. I actually thought it would have been higher.

Okay, so all of that is well and good, but it's not going to admit more attendees. And I found this quote mildly irritating: "Comic-Con has expressed concern over the last several years that it's getting very expensive for their attendees to come to San Diego and while they recognize that they're here at a premium time of year, they feel they're being taken advantage of to a degree. I believe that Comic-Con is ours to keep but we can't get too cocky and create an environment that doesn't work for their customers."

An environment that doesn't work for us? That wouldn't be San Diego at large - I'm fine with the city and I think most other attendees are too. It's the actual policies and practices of the Con itself that we have a gripe with. And money isn't one of them. CCI has frequently referred to the fact that they want to keep badge prices low, but I think this should be a low, low priority on their Fix List. The demand for badges is overwhelming. That means people are more than happy to pay the current badge prices and would probably pay more. Ditto hotel rooms - you don't see the Day's Inn selling out and the most expensive rooms at the Hyatt lingering on the site for weeks. People are willing to spend on Comic-Con and the expense is not what we're unhappy about.

Anyhow, that's the update. San Diego may be our home forever, but that means the current struggles may also be our lot forever. Fingers crossed the powers that be find a way to finance the expansion.


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