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The Los Angeles Times has fired political cartoonist Ted Rall, who worked on a freelance basis, after finding “inconsistencies” in a post he wrote in May for the newspaper’s OpinionLA blog about being stopped by police in 2001 for jaywalking. However, Rall insists his story is true, and accuses the Los Angeles Police Department of pressuring the paper to ax him.
Rall, who has drawn many cartoons critical of the LAPD, described the incident in the original blog post:
Originally scheduled for Sept. 24-25, Wizard’s site now says the dates are “TBD,” while the Los Angeles Convention Center site still lists the show. Despite the fact that they’ve been very active on Twitter and Facebook the last few days promoting last weekend’s Wizard World Chicago show, Wizard has made no mention of a change in date, a cancellation or whatever is going on with the L.A. show.
“So, Wizard pulls the plug on the LA show, just five weeks out, after inviting me and inducing my purchase of a non-refundable room?” creator Ande Park tweeted earlier today. And in the comments section at The Beat, Simon Fraser wonders if he should cancel his flight or not.
Wizard initially announced a show in Los Angeles two years ago that ended up being canceled; this latest show was announced in April and already had a fairly large guest list in place. And as CBR noted earlier this year in a piece by Josie Campbell, the L.A. convention scene has grown considerably; the Long Beach Comic Con is scheduled for Oct. 29-30, while the Comikaze Expo is scheduled for Nov. 5-6. Comic-Con International is also considering Anaheim as a possible location for WonderCon next year.
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.
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.