san diego convention center
Despite objections by the San Diego Chargers and concerns about public access to the waterfront, the California Coastal Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, viewed as critical to keeping Comic-Con International in the city.
While the blessing of the commission — it’s a state agency with regulatory oversight of land use and public access to the California coastal zone — removes one major obstacle, U-T San Diego notes there remains pending litigation to the project’s financing scheme, which calls for a hotel surcharge of 1 percent to 3 percent. Hoteliers have already agreed to the plan, and a judge has upheld the assessment as legal, but opponents have appealed the ruling, arguing the arrangement amounts to privatizing the city’s taxing authority.
Conventions | A even bigger obstacle than the San Diego Chargers to the proposed $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center could be the California Coastal Commission, which must approve the project before it can proceed (the stage agency has regulatory oversight of land use and public access to the California coastal zone). The commission’s 11 members are meeting today through Friday in Mission Valley, where they’re expected to consider staff objections about reduced access to the bay; a bridge, estimated to cost about $42 million, from the foot of Fourth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter has been floated as a solution. A public hearing is being held Thursday. The expansion of the convention center is viewed as critical to keeping Comic-Con International in the city past 2015. [U-T San Diego]
Comic-Con International is spilling out of the San Diego Convention Center as Warner Bros. Entertainment takes over Bayfront Park for Lawn Con, a free pop-culture event for big and little kids alike.
Open to the public Thursday through Sunday, Lawn Con features lives DJs, a picnic area, and characters and replicas from Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Warner Bros. Pictures: enormous blow-ups of the Teen Titans Go! crew, ranging in height from 17 to 30 feet; a life-size LEGO model of Bag End from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, complete with Gandalf, Bilbo and others; life-size LEGO models of Batman, Robin and The Joker; and a replica of Scooby-Doo and the gang’s Mystery Machine.
Bayfront Park is located between the San Diego Convention Center and the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel.
As big of a boon as Comic-Con International is to the San Diego economy, new research has found something significantly larger: beer.
U-T San Diego reports that an independent study released on Monday– it’s the first devoted to the impact of local craft brewing — found the county’s breweries accounted for $299.5 million in wages, capital expenses and contracts in 2011. The direct economic impact of Comic-Con International that same year was about $180 million, up a little from the $163 million figure found in a 2010 study commissioned by the San Diego Convention Center Corp.
Add to that $299.5 million beer number a reported $680.8 million in local brewery sales, and hotel and restaurant revenues from events like San Diego Beer Week. The new study determined local brewpubs employ 1,133 people, and breweries another 497.
Conventions | San Diego City Council has given final approval to the planned $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, viewed as necessary to keeping Comic-Con International in the city past 2015. The project still faces a legal challenge to a financing scheme involving a hotel-room surtax, as well as state regulatory approval, leading the city attorney to caution that the targeted 2017 completion date is just “a goal.” Whether Comic-Con organizers can be convinced to sign another three-year extension to their contract remains a big question. [NBC San Diego]
Conventions | Most of Heidi MacDonald’s article about New York Comic Con is behind a paywall at Publishers Weekly, but she pulls out some stats at The Beat: Ticket sales are up 190 percent over this time last year. As the capacity of the Javits Center is somewhere south of 110,000 people, this means the ReedPOP folks won’t sell any more tickets than last year, but they are selling out faster. Three-day and four-day passes are already gone, only Friday tickets remain, and ReedPOP vice president Lance Fensterman expects everything to be sold out by the time the show begins. [The Beat]
Comic-Con | The dust hasn’t even settled on Comic-Con International, and already the hand-wringing has begun anew over whether organizers will keep the event in San Diego past their 2015 contract. A proposed $550 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center would have to break ground by the end of the year to meet a 2016 deadline. [Fox 5]
Conventions | To coincide with the 40th anniversary of the first San Diego Comic-Con, some of the founders are organizing San Diego Comic Fest, a small-scale event — it’s described as “an old-school comic con” — to be held Oct. 19-21. [UT-San Diego]
Yes, it’s that time of year again! Comic-Con International starts today with a special preview night, and then formally kicks off Thursday.
If you have a badge, consider yourself lucky: They sold out within an hour and a half months ago. While there were three chances to buy returned badges, they’re now all gone. There are no on-site passes available for walk-ups, and badges are assigned to specific names and require photo ID to enter, so scalping or cheating your way in isn’t easy. That means, as has been the case for years now, if you don’t have a badge at this point, you’re not going.
By now, most people who follow some level of entertainment news know about Comic-Con. Because of yearly buzz, plenty of Southern California locals want to go at least once, just to check it out. Like Coachella or Burning Man, Comic-Con has become a cultural curiosity to just experience.
Within this curiosity is a hotbed of potential new readers. But just as Coachella tickets now sell out a year in advance, before a line-up is even announced, so too is Comic-Con an impossible ticket for the casual fan.
Comics fans will have just one more opportunity to grouse that “Twilight ruined Comic-Con,” as Summit Entertainment confirmed last night that The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 will be the very first panel of the San Diego convention.
Die-hard Twilight fans, dubbed “Twihards,” have been an unmistakable (or perhaps unavoidable) presence at Comic-Con the past fews years, with a tent-and-sleeping-bag city referred to as Camp Twilight forming outside the San Diego Convention Center three days before the Hall H presentation.
In 2009, ahead of the release of the second movie New Moon, a group of largely male protesters at the convention carried cardboard signs bearing the hand-scrawled, and now infamous, slogan “Twilight ruined Comic-Con,” leading some to wonder whether fanboys were being sexist, or merely territorial (and delighting in not being at the bottom of the pecking order).
Creators | iZombie writer Chris Roberson discusses his recent public announcement that he would no longer accept work from DC Comics and his subsequent dismissal from his last writing job for the publisher. “Well, this has been building over the last few months, and mostly had to do with what I saw DC and Time Warner doing in regards to creator relations. I think the first thing — you have to understand that when I first started working for DC in 2008, the Siegels had just recaptured half of the copyright for Action Comics #1 and I felt very good about that. That seemed like a very positive step. And then over the course of the last few months there has been the counter-suit against the Siegels’ lawyer, Marc Toberoff, and I was less sanguine about that, and starting to get a little itchy about it, and then there were just a few general things about the way that it seemed that DC regards creators now that are working for them — and I can talk about that more in detail — but the real kind of proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the announcement at the beginning of February of Before Watchmen, which I just thought was unconscionable. And so I had already signed a contract by that point to do six more issues of iZombie, of which three of them had been turned in, and so I just made the decision to go ahead and turn in the remaining three, not wanting to jeopardize the livelihood of my collaborators Mike and Laura Allred. But once I turned in the last one, even though I had other work lined up, I would have to at least — if only for my own peace of mind — let people know that I wasn’t happy with it.” [The Comics Journal]
Conventions | San Diego City Council on Tuesday approved the basic funding plan for the proposed $500 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, home to Comic-Con International. At the center of the financing scheme is an assessment district that adds between between 1 cents and 3 cents per dollar to room taxes of 224 hotels with more than 30 rooms. Those hotels closest to the convention center would be assessed an extra 3 cents per dollar, and those farthest away could be charged an extra penny per dollar.
The expansion plan has a ticking clock, as Comic-Con has signed a deal to remain in San Diego through 2015, but larger venues in Las Vegas and Anaheim have been lobbying organizers to look elsewhere. [NBC San Diego]
Legal | Cartoonist Susie Cagle, who was arrested last month while covering Occupy Oakland, says she has been cleared of all charges by the Oakland Police Department. The Society of Professional Journalists sent a letter to the Oakland police condemning the arrest, which ultimately assisted in getting the charges dropped. The letter called out the department’s crowd management policy, which says, “Even after a dispersal order has been given, clearly identified media shall be permitted to carry out their professional duties in any area where arrests are being made, unless their presence would unduly interfere with the enforcement action.” [Fishbowl LA]
Conventions | San Diego City Council approved a plan to have San Diego hotels pay for a $520 million convention center expansion. The plan moves to a second hearing in January and requires a vote of two-thirds of the hotels that cast ballots for approval. [NBC San Diego]
As sure as the moon rises in the East and vampires sparkle in sunlight, die-hard fans of the Twilight series line up early for Summit Entertainment’s Hall H presentation at Comic-Con International in San Diego. But just how early? By at least one account, there were about 20 Twihards outside the San Diego Convention Center late yesterday afternoon, becoming the founders of this year’s version of “Camp Twilight” — or “Camp Breaking Dawn,” if you prefer. Within hours, that number more than doubled, with as many as 50 devotees eagerly awaiting a panel that doesn’t begin until 11:15 a.m. Thursday.
Even the most hardcore comic-book enthusiasts — those who travel hundreds of miles and lay out hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to get a sketch from a favorite artist, sit through panels about favorite characters and rub sweaty elbows with like-minded individuals — have difficulty understanding this level of devotion to Stephanie Meyer’s novels and the movie adaptations.
However, that doesn’t mean members of other fandoms can’t offer a little convention advice to Team Edward and Team Jacob. “Dear Twihards in line at Hall H for #Twilight on Thurs: It is only Monday” Jo Garfein tweeted. “Pattinson will be able to smell you in that 1st row. Deodorize!”
(Photo of nighttime at “Camp Breaking Dawn” via RobPattzNews)
Retailing | As the bankrupt Borders Group weighs competing bids, Barnes & Noble — the largest book chain in the United States — reports a loss of $74 million for the fiscal year, in part because of heavy investment in its digital initiatives. However, the company saw a 50-percent sales increase at BN.com, fueled by Nook devices and digital content sold through the Nook Bookstore. [Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Lew Sayre Schwartz, one of Bob Kane’s ghost artists on Batman and Detective Comics, passed away June 7 as the result of an injury suffered in a fall. He was 84. Schwartz drew as many as 120 Batman stories between 1948 and 1953, all signed “Bob Kane,” before leaving comics after a junket entertaining troops in Korea. Eddie Campbell quotes Schwartz as saying, “’When I got back, I couldn’t stand drawing another page’ of Batman.” He went on to work in television advertising, co-founding the commercial production company Ferro, Mogubgub and Schwartz. [Mark Evanier, ComicMix]
Conventions | Scott Lewis looks at the plan by Mayor Jerry Sanders to pay for the $500-million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center: the Convention Center Assessment District, an entity that will add an additional 3 percent tax on room bills for hotels downtown, 2 percent on those out to Mission Valley, and 1 percent on those farther away. [Voice of San Diego]
Publishing | The drop in year-over-year sales in the direct market slowed in April, with periodicals slipping 1.75 percent and graphic novels just .84 percent. Overall sales were down 1.46 percent for April and 6.5 percent for the first four months of the year. Marvel topped Diamond’s comics chart with Fear Itself #1, while DC led the graphic novel category with the 15th volume of Fables. [ICv2.com]
Crime | Police evacuated the bus terminal in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan, Friday afternoon after a suspicious package was discovered across the street. The Michigan State Police bomb squad was called in, and it was determined the mysterious package was merely a briefcase-shaped media kit promoting Acura’s involvement with Marvel’s Thor. A writer for Automobile, whose offices are next to the terminal, had discarded the “S.H.I.E.L.D. Assessment Test” kit in the recycling bin, but it wasn’t picked up — apparently because it isn’t recyclable. [WXYZ, Jalopnik]