San Diego Comic Con

San Diego City Council casts doubt over future for Comic-Con

Contributed by
Aug 29, 2014, 7:39 PM EDT (Updated)

San Diego has been the home of the world's biggest geek culture gathering for more than 40 years -- but a just-announced decision by the San Diego City Council has made it uncertain whether the two entities will reach a 50th anniversary together.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the council decided earlier this week not to appeal a court ruling that effectively ended, at least for now, plans to expand the San Diego Convention Center, where Comic-Con is held every year and brings $180 million annually into the city.

The ruling struck down a proposal to fund new construction on the Convention Center by extracting a levy from the many hotels surrounding the Convention Center, and the council's decision not to appeal means that the city will either have to find the estimated $520 million needed for the expansion somewhere else, or is going to abandon the project altogether.

But here's the thing: When Comic-Con's organizers turned down several other bids two years ago and signed a contract to stay in San Diego through 2016, a promise to expand the Convention Center was reportedly part of the event's incentive to remain in the city. With that expansion now temporarily or even permanently off the table, will Comic-Con finally accept another offer and leave after the 2016 show?

Comic-Con International's David Glanzer said in a statement, "Any decision to remain in San Diego has always been based on a variety of issues, including hotel room rates, available meeting space and other concerns, none of which necessarily override the other." 

He added that the organizers were "grateful that the mayor, city officials, hoteliers and convention center staff have worked to help mitigate our space concerns and are happy that we have a continuous dialogue with those entities. We hope there will be a solution that allows Comic-Con to stay in San Diego for years to come."

That sounds like the show's organizers are not interested in making a move just yet, which is probably a wise choice for several reasons. First, the show and city have a longstanding relationship that might be hard to replicate in a new location. Second, even at its current size, the San Diego Convention Center dwarfs the venues available in other cities that have made bids, including Los Angeles and Anaheim.

Finally, San Diego's Convention Center is conveniently located near scores of hotels, restaurants, bars and other facilities in a way that the Los Angeles and Anaheim venues are not. Even though Anaheim currently hosts WonderCon every spring, it's plain to see when attending that event that the facility could not handle that show's much larger big brother (the Las Vegas Convention Center is the only place we can think of that might do the job).

There's also no question, however, that Comic-Con has just about maxed out the San Diego location too -- as anyone who has battled the massive crowds and stood in those hellish lines can attest. So an expansion is sorely needed there. But if that doesn't come to pass, should Comic-Con stay the course or look elsewhere?