Are you an average SD convention center attendee?


At most Cons, there's not much point in thinking about the facility around you. You hope the bathrooms are clean, the escalators work, and the rooms are easy to find as you hotfoot it from one panel to the next. That's about it.

But San Diego Comic-Con is a bit different, of course; its convention center has been the center of much drama and controversy as the possibility of its expansion - and different forms therein - hangs in the balance, throwing into question the future location of SDCC. Recently a number of proposals went down in flames but the issue is far from dead. And it's not just of interest to attendees; locals have many feelings on the expansion and who will pay for it.

Some of those calculations come down to us: how much do we spend in the fair city of San Diego, and are we worth catering to?

The convention center has focused on that spending in its new 2016 report. Alas, some people doubt its monetary authenticity. Heywood Saunders, for instance, author of the esteemed Convention Center Follies - possibly the best title that has ever existed - scoffs at the reported attendee spending. However, he also seems to be unaware of the clamor for hotel rooms, stating "People aren't staying anywhere near four nights and they never have." He also has this to say about the various California center expansions: "It is not plausible that all will succeed or any will succeed." Okay, then. I'm sure he'll enlighten us more in his sequel The Comic-Con Curmudgeon.

Here are the numbers the convention center is reporting on the "average" FY16 attendee. See if you fit the bill:

  • Lodging: 428
  • Food: 143
  • Shopping: 80
  • Local transportation: 18
  • Total: 1,179

You get the idea - these numbers are way lower than what you and I drop at SDCC. Yet even though Comic-Con is listed as the king of all convention center events, the report doesn't focus on us too much, instead exploring - yawn - medical convention attendees.

You may not be a report person, but if you are interested in our impact on San Diego - besides how magical and beautiful we make it every July - you might want to check it out. That said, I don't think our taxi and drink budgets are the biggest factor in keeping the Con in San Diego. We come, we spend, many of us definitely stay for 4 nights, and then we leave. The city could survive without our money. But they also enjoy a certain prestige in being the city of the most famous Comic-Con, and CCI has their roots there, and all in all, I just don't see the two of them breaking up with each other.

However, Heywood Saunders and his ilk have a point - convention centers are more than their biggest events. We may be a carnivorous demographic in our need to consume every meal, hotel room and Sailor Moon shirt in sight, but the San Diego Convention Center can't justify a costly expansion just for us. They haven't so far; they've spoken of attracting other events as well. But the report is still a good reminder that we are not the be all and end all of the expansion.


  1. I've always felt that the expansion of the convention center shouldn't solely be based on the prestige of the Comicon convention. The convention center must include others who want to use it as well. So that means medical convention, et al should be just as important as super heroes and horror movies.

    And on a personal level, numbers (statistics, etc) need to be taken with a grain of salt. It's important to know who are the authors are and what agenda they have in mind. I am hoping fair play is forthcoming and not have the Comicon be the only reason for the inevitable expansion.

    San Diego isn't just a place where the entire world watches us for a few days in July. The other times in the year will include "boring" conventions which I feel is just as important, if I dare say so, more important. As whole, the convention center brings in a fair amount of money throughout the year. Having a convention center address all the needs of it's players so that it continues to be in use all year around...and not those few days in July.