San Diego to Build $753 Million Expansion to Convention Center in a Bid to Keep Comic-Con

     April 4, 2010

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The Port of San Diego has agreed to a $753 million expansion to the San Diego Convention Center keep Comic-Con and other festivals in the city.  There has been rising doubts about whether Comic-Con would stay in San Diego when the contract between the city and organizers Comic-Con International (CCI, a non-profit organization) expired after 2012.  The problem is in accommodating the 126,000+ attendees.  Aside from the catastrophuck of this year’s hotel pre-registration, the San Diego Convention Center is a finite space.  The center isn’t happy because they’ve had to turn away events in recent years, and exhibitors and studios aren’t happy because they want even more consumers to buy their goods and even more viewers to see their product.

Hit the jump for more details on the deal and what it could mean for the Convention’s future.

san_diego_convention_center_expansion_site_plan.jpgComic-Con-as well as the other events at the convention center (yes, there are other events that use that space the other 362 days of the year…they just don’t matter to us)-generates fat cash to the city.  According to SignOnSanDiego.com, a mayoral task force discovered that the Center had pumped $18 billion into the local economy and raised $364 million in tax revenue over the past 20 years.

Now factor this into your math: the center began operating at capacity in 2001, shortly after completion of its first expansion, which cost $216 million.  In that time, the convention center has had to turn away almost 400 events in recent years, 80% of which could have been accommodated had the venue been larger.  As for the other 20%, I can only speculate, but I assume they were turned away because their applications were filled with ethnic slurs.

But here’s some math that I’m having a little trouble with: The larger center is expected to open in 2015.  If Comic-Con’s contract ends after 2012, where does the Con go for 2013 and 2014?  My guess is that the Con would resign with San Diego because you don’t dump your girlfriend if you know she’s going to have an extra 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, a third ballroom and 100,000 square feet of meeting room in just a couple more years.

San Diego is a beautiful city and I love the Gaslamp Quarter adjacent to the Convention Center.  I also like that they’re expanding the center rather than trying to cut the convention up into far off hotels.  Keeping it all under one roof is terrific.  Now if CCI could just understand how to do pre-registration right and that maybe it’s time to make wi-fi pay-only, then we’ll be cooking…until the next problem we find unbearable at this yearly pop culture phenomenon that is ridiculously fun.

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