Comic-Con International, better known as San Diego Comic-Con — the annual pop culture extravaganza that attracts over 130,000 fans of comics, video games, horror and sci-fi movies, cosplay and just about any other escapist pop culture phenomenon — may no longer call San Diego its home after the 2016 event, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times Wednesday.
Setbacks in a planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, combined with tempting bids from two other California municipalities which offer larger convention center spaces, could cause convention organizers to cut bait on their commitment to the state’s second-largest city, a marriage that has endured since the first Comic Con in San Diego on March 21, 1970.
Back then, the now four-day event lasted all of a single day, and was called “San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Minicon.” The whole thing fit into the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego’s downtown district.
By 2015, Comic-Con, with attendance topping 130,000 and tickets selling out within hours like a major rock concert, the convention is straining at the confines of the 615,000 square foot convention center that stands at the water’s edge, adjacent to San Diego’s hopping Gaslight district.
A planned $520 million expansion of the convention center, which would add more than 400,000 new square feet of much-needed space to the San Diego Convention Center hit a dead end after a court decided that a plan to let area hotels decide on a tax increase to pay for the project, rather than put it in front of San Diego voters, wasn’t kosher.
Now the Comic-Con faces a tough choice. Stay in the city of its birth, a city that calls the annual pop culture spectacular “our Super Bowl,” or pack up the capes, cowls and light sabers and move up Interstate 5 to either Anaheim — or Los Angeles itself.
Both cities have made attractive offers to the Comic-Con organizers.
“The proposals we’ve received are pretty amazing,” Comic-Con Spokesperson David Glanzer told the Times. “It’s not an easy decision.”
In fact, Los Angeles has reportedly offered to rent out the convention center in the city’s newly revitalized downtown district for all of $1 — a pretty good deal for L.A. considering that the four-day event which usually takes place in late July — and also includes a fifth “preview” day — is estimated to bring $180 million pouring into the local economy.
But Anaheim, with its proximity to Disneyland and 815,000 square-foot convention facility is believed to have the upper hand.
“The truth is, we’d love to stay in San Diego, if we can make it work then we will,” Comic-Con spokesperson Glanzer said. “If it doesn’t work, then we’ll be forced to move.”