It is time for the nearly annual “Will San Diego Comic-Con stay in San Diego?” report.
According to The San Diego Union Tribune, Comic-Con International and the San Diego Convention Center Corp. have extended a previous deal to keep the convention in town through the 2021 show until 2024. But, as always, concerns about expanding the Convention center along its eastern side — the grass field utilized as the Hall H line — may lead to CCI looking for other venues and, potentially, a new locale in 2025. The possible expansion of the convention center, to be paid for by a hotel tax increase, will be put to a vote in March.
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the ballot initiative. After that, there will be a true indicator of what we can do and how we plan for the future,” David Glanzer, spokesman for Comic-Con International, told the Tribune.
The game of cat-and-mouse between CCI and the city has been ongoing for most of the century, but it became a paramount issue when attendance to the show was capped at 135,000. Both parties have tried to defray some of the space limitations by moving events off-site locations like the nearby library or the Horton Grand Theater. But without a signicant addition to the convention center itself, the sold-out show will continue to be difficult to attend.
Over the last twenty or so years, Comic-Con became an important revenue generator for the city; meaning it also must fend off tourism boards from other cities looking to lure CCI away. Shots seemed to be fired when CCI moved WonderCon from Anaheim to the Los Angeles Convention Center in 2016. It is unclear if CCI viewed the experiment as a failure, but WonderCon returned to Anaheim the next year with exhibitors noting some of the show’s momentum had been lost. And while it seems LA’s facilities may not be up to CCI’s specifications, it is always possible some city will come forward with the space, discounts, and amenities necessary to make CCI decamp from San Diego.
Alternatively, the Con’s future will continue to play out in this incremental way for decades to come.