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The agreement gives the San Diego Convention Center control of a seven-acre bayfront plot to be used for the proposed expansion — an additional 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, 100,000 square feet of meeting rooms and a third ballroom — and a 500-room hotel. Both are seen as essential to keeping Comic-Con International, and the estimated $60 million its attendees pump into the economy, in San Diego.
The expansion would give the facility a total of 815,000 square feet of exhibit space, roughly the same as the venue in Anaheim — which, along with the one in Los Angeles, is competing for Comic-Con. The group’s contract with the San Diego Convention Center expires in 2012. Organizers are expected to make a decision about the event’s future within the next 30 days.
Now that the land deal is approved, officials with the city, convention center and port district will begin an 18- to 24-month process during which time they’ll seek public comment, study possible environmental effects of the expansion, and identify potential revenue streams. If all goes as planned, and the California Coastal Commission approves the project, the expanded convention center could open in 2015.
If the expansion happens, the San Diego Convention Center Corp. would pay a total of $14.5 million to Fifth Avenue Landing, the business group that holds the lease on the property. However, if it doesn’t happen, the plot reverts back to the business group, which then would have to build a hotel there.