Despite a report that WonderCon will be held next year in Anaheim, Calif., because of renovations to San Francisco’s Moscone Center, event organizers say no final decisions have been made.
David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations for Comic-Con International, tells The Comics Reporter that while the organization is considering the Anaheim Convention Center as one of the possible locations for 2012, it’s possible that WonderCon could remain at the Moscone Center, its home since 2003.
He explained that although organizers were initially told there would be no dates available next year because of the construction, that recently changed. Now, with Comic-Con over, officials will turn their attention to the dates and facilities included in the new proposal.
Although organizers had hoped to make an announcement about the future of Comic-Con International before this year’s event kicks off on Thursday, they now say a decision won’t be made until after this week’s convention is over.
Three cities — Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Diego — are embroiled in a bidding war for the event, whose contract with the San Diego Convention Center expires in 2012. At stake is the $163 million that Comic-Con’s 125,000 attendees pour into the local economy each year.
A decision by the Comic-Con board of directors has been expected since at least April. However, efforts by the three competing cities to sweeten their offers have contributed to repeated delays. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the current hold-up stems from a request made in May by convention organizers for San Diego hotels to sign contracts guaranteeing room rates for the next five years.
“I don’t think all the hotels have signed contracts yet,” spokesman David Glanzer tells the newspaper, “and the truth of the matter is, because the situation won’t be resolved this week from our end, I think this is being tabled right now. We’re already spread thin right now. Ninety-nine percent of our time is ensuring the show is successful.”
The delay is worrisome enough that Mayor Jerry Sanders last week began calling hotel managers to urge them to finish the contracts.
Crime | Florida authorities are trying to determine whether human remains discovered Wednesday in Pasco County are those of Stephen Perry, the 56-year-old ThunderCats writer who’s been missing for more than three weeks and presumed murdered. Zephyrhills police are still awaiting the results of DNA testing on the severed arm found in a trash bin on May 16 near Perry’s abandoned van.
Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman, who’s been covering the Perry case from the beginning, notes police revealed the latest discovery on the same day that Warner Bros. Animation announced it is producing a new version of ThunderCats. [The Tampa Tribune]
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.
A land deal has been brokered that could lay the groundwork for a $753-million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and keep Comic-Con International from leaving the city.
The Union-Tribune reports this morning that officials with the Port of San Diego and the convention center will work together for the waterfront expansion and a hotel after they negotiated a deal with a private business group for a seven-acre plot. The Port Commission is expected to approve the deal on Tuesday.
The agreement would remove the major obstacle to a proposed expansion of the convention center that would provide an additional 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, 100,000 square feet of meeting rooms and a third ballroom. That would give the San Diego venue a total of 815,000 square feet of exhibit space, roughly the same as the Anaheim Convention Center — which, along with the Los Angeles Convention Center, is competing for Comic-Con.
Comic-Con International has sold out, two months ahead of last year’s event, after the remaining Sunday memberships were purchased late this afternoon.
The early sellout comes as no surprise, as four-day passes disappeared in November, while Saturday memberships were gone by mid-December, almost four months earlier than those for the 2009 convention. The other two days weren’t far behind, with Friday selling out in January and Thursday going the way of the dodo just two weeks ago.
The news arrives as Anaheim and Los Angeles step up their efforts to lure Comic-Con from San Diego, where the event long ago outgrew the city’s convention center, resulting in a capping of attendance at about 125,000.
Comic-Con’s contract expires in 2012, but the San Diego Convention Center Corp. is seeking to extend the agreement an additional three years, in part, by securing commitments from three waterfront hotels to provide for free about 300,000 square feet of meeting space from 2013 to 2015. The San Diego Convention Center has 615,700 square feet of exhibit space, compared to the Los Angeles Convention Center’s 720,000 square feet and the Anaheim Convention Center’s 815,000.
There’s also an effort by San Diego to increase the number of dedicated convention hotel rooms from 7,000 to 14,000, which would give the city a great advantage over Anaheim and L.A. (The former has about 4,500 hotel rooms within walking distance of its convention center, the latter just 2,000.)
Comic-Con begins July 21 with Preview Night, and continues through July 25.
The courtship of Comic-Con International, and its $40-million annual boost to the local economy, has made the move to Facebook.
On a newly launched Facebook fan page called Bring Comic-Con International to Anaheim, CA, the convention bureau posts an “Open Letter to Comic-Con International” extolling the virtues of the Orange County area and the Anaheim Convention Center — it underscores the selling points on its website — while acknowledging organizers’ hesitancy about uprooting the event from its longtime San Diego home.
“… We get the feeling that it is going to take something extra to get you to leave a place of comfort and familiarity to come to Anaheim,” the letter states. “We need to show you the level of interest and excitement that Comic-Con International elicits out of this huge Southern California drive market.”
To that end, the convention bureau is using the Facebook page “to gauge the fervor of the Southern California crowd” and show convention organizers “just how excited people would get at the mere consideration of Comic-Con International moving to Anaheim.”
It will take more than excitement and Facebook fans, though. As Comic-Con nears the end of its lease with the San Diego Convention Center, the home it long ago outgrew — attendance has been capped at about 126,000 because of lack of space — Anaheim and Los Angeles are prime contenders for the event for 2013 and beyond.
That’s not to say San Diego should be counted out: The San Diego Convention Center Corp. has submitted a proposal seeking to extend Comic-Con’s contract through 2015, and has secured commitments from three waterfront hotels to provide for free about 300,000 square feet of meeting space from 2013 to 2015.