4:36pm PT by Graeme McMillan
Could Comic-Con Leave San Diego After 2016?
The future of San Diego Comic-Con is slightly more uncertain following the San Diego City Council’s decision Tuesday not to appeal a court ruling that would end plans to expand the city’s convention center — plans that were a primary motivator in Comic-Con organizers extending their previous agreement with the city.
The ruling, passed down from the Fourth District Court of Appeal earlier this month, struck down a proposed levy on hotels in the area around the San Diego Convention Center — a levy which was relied upon to foot much of the projected $520 million cost of the planned expansion for the Convention Center. On Tuesday, the San Diego City Council decided not to appeal the ruling, leaving the future of the expansion project in doubt.
“We're going to have to spend some time figuring out a way to pay for this project or find a new one,” council president Todd Gloria told local news station CBS 8. Construction on the expansion was originally scheduled to begin in "late 2014," according to authorities.
The expansion of the convention center space was seen by many to be a factor in Comic-Con International extending its agreement with the city through 2016, despite competition from both Los Angeles and Anaheim. But in a statement to THR, Comic-Con International's David Glanzer explained that "any decision to remain in San Diego has always been based on a variety of issues, including hotel room rates, available meeting space and other concerns, none of which necessarily override the other."
Glanzer added that the organization is "grateful that the mayor, city officials, hoteliers and convention center staff have worked to help mitigate our space concerns and are happy that we have a continuous dialogue with those entities. We hope there will be a solution that allows Comic-Con to stay in San Diego for years to come."
The annual five-day event is estimated to bring in around $180 million to the city each year.
Whether or not Comic-Con would actually leave the city is unclear, especially given that the convention center's expansion is not definitely dead. Many industry insiders, including writer and Comic-Con regular Mark Evanier, think the event's move is highly unlikely if not outright impossible, given its history with the city. It is worth pointing out, however, that WonderCon, another annual Comic-Con International event which ran in California’s Bay Area since its 1987 inception, moved to Anaheim in 2012 and has shown little sign of moving back.