Anaheim makes bid to lure Comic-Con

Annual San Diego convention may relocate after 2012

Disneyland's hometown is looking for a few good Supermen -- along with a couple Klingons and Wookies -- to keep its famous mouse company.

Anaheim tourism officials said Wednesday that they have submitted a proposal to Comic-Con International's board that would lure the yearly confab of comic book aficionados, sci-fi fans and entertainment industry reps from its longtime San Diego home.

Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau president Charles Ahlers said his city's larger convention center can offer the growing event more meeting space, a greater number of hotel rooms and cheaper overnight stays.

"It's hard to unseat a destination that has grown with an organization -- we have some of those here in Anaheim," Ahlers said. "But in reality, if you are at a stagnant point in your growth and you can't grow any further, you have to look toward the future."

Comic-Con began 40 years ago and has grown into one of the region's largest annual conventions, routinely attracting some 125,000 people -- many in costume -- for sessions with celebrity guests and screeners of the year's most fanciful coming attractions.

Internal surveys show attendees spend $60 million on lodging, food and transportation during the four-day July event, which is contractually free to leave San Diego's convention center in 2012.

Anaheim's bid for the convention joins a similar effort to lasso the lucrative event by Los Angeles, leaving San Diego shaking in its boots.

Hotels near San Diego's convention center have offered Comic-Con 300,000 square feet of free meeting space and have proposed doubling the number of dedicated convention guest rooms to 14,000 in an attempt to lock in the convention through 2015.

By then, convention center officials hope to have completed a planned expansion that would leave the event with ample space.

"San Diego and Comic-Con go hand in hand like Batman and Robin," San Diego Convention Center Corp. spokesman Steven Johnson said. "We want to make sure that dynamic duo stays together."

Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer acknowledged that the event has been straining against the limits of its current home and that it is considering whether the San Diego proposal would assuage those concerns.

"We love San Diego. The majority of the people who put the show on live here," said Glanzer, who did not know when a venue would be chosen. "But we have to make a decision that's based on what really is best for the event."