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September 30, 2010

Comic-Con Chooses San Diego


According to a press release dropped earlier this evening, Comic-Con International has decided to extend its relationship with the city of San Diego and the San Diego convention center, ending an extensive process during which the city was heavily wooed by convention officials from Anaheim and Los Angeles.

According to the official press release, the con will stay in San Diego through 2015. "We are grateful for the tireless efforts all three cities put into to their proposals," CCI Director of Marketing and Publication Relations David Glanzer was quoted as saying in the press release."In the end, we feel this decision is the best for all those who attend Comic-Con and for the organization itself. We are happy that the community has worked with us to ensure that we remain here"

The press release cited the self-imposed attendance limit in 2007-2010, the last three of which were capped at 125,000 people, as the reason they looked to other cities.

The convention was founded in 1970 in San Diego by area fans, and from those beginnings, where the entire show was focused on a single hotel's available space, has become a city-wide event, jamming area hotel rooms and putting more than 125,000 people into the expansive convention center. Over the last decade the swell of fantasy franchise movies and television shows has fueled Hollywood's interest in the show to the point where Comic-Con has become a major entertainment industry event to rival any role it's ever played for the comics world. Debates rage among fans over where those Hollywood interests have pulled the show away from its comics roots or, alternatively, if the comics core of the show remains as strong as ever and the show is merely pursuing its traditional interests across media. A move to entertainment industry capital Los Angeles or Disney-dominant Anaheim might have exacerbated the claims of the former camp.


I spoke to CCI spokesperson David Glanzer upon hearing news of their decision.

TOM SPURGEON: David, congratulations on finalizing your choice. Can you paint the picture of the moment when you came to the decision -- was it a meeting, was it a conference call? And to follow up slightly, what was the mood in the room once the decision was made? Is there a sense of relief to having all of this over with?

DAVID GLANZER: It wasn't really a particular moment per se. We made no secret of the fact that we would, in a perfect world, love to stay in San Diego. We just had to be sure that whatever decision we made would really have to have more pluses than minuses. In the end I think we came to a good decision. As for a sense of relief, yes, I think there is to a small degree. But there's going to be a tremendous amount of work ahead of us and we're all very aware of that.

SPURGEON: It's been two full months now since the decision was tabled. I don't know if you'll care to, but could you share what it was that you were considering in these last few weeks, what factors drove that extra consideration? What were you looking at?

GLANZER: I don't know that the decision was really tabled. There were just a lot of things to look at. With three different proposals, there were additions, changes, things that each city thought might mitigate some of our concerns. So, in the end, it really took much longer than I think anyone on this end ever thought it would.

SPURGEON: How much did the operation of this year’s convention play into the final decision; is there anything that worked well that you found particularly encouraging?

GLANZER: Well, the addition of the hotels meeting space really has helped us. Last year we utilized the Bayfront Hilton to much success and this year we added the Marriott Marina. The fact that attendees didn't mind going off-site so much was, I feel, a good indicator that things could work if we stayed.

imageSPURGEON: I'm not sure I'm totally correct about the primacy of these issues, but I wanted to ask you about how Comic-Con feels the situation stands right now on a couple of key issues. What do you have from San Diego in terms of the hotel situation that makes you comfortable that will be a smoother issue going forward? Are there more rooms? Did you get caps on certain price points regarding rooms?

GLANZER: Well, we've received assurances that we will have access to more rooms for our room bloc. This gives us the possibility of doubling the amount of rooms available to our attendees. Rates are always an issue, and the hotels fully understand this. This agreement will hopefully keep hotel rates competitive.

SPURGEON: The second issue is the convention center itself. How confident are you that the convention center and San Diego can handle this very popular show in the years ahead? Do you see or know about expansion in the future? Are there plans that you have worked out concerning outside facilities being employed?

GLANZER: We reached a self-imposed attendance limit several years ago and our deliberations on the proposals never really considered the expansion because we knew any expansion wouldn't even be complete until after 2015. So while we are faced with flat income, the center has worked with us in allowing signage and the like at the center which helps us defray costs. You know we've been in San Diego for 40 years, and at this facility since '91. We haven't had major sponsorship signage in the past because there was a lack of desire from exhibitors and others, it was just something we never felt we had to do. But of course, times change.

Being able to utilize hotels ballroom space, city park space and the like makes staying in San Diego possible.

SPURGEON: What can you do now that you have this decision made that you were maybe putting on hold until you decided? What is the next step to making this new relationship work?

GLANZER: Well, to be honest, not much. We always had a two-level approach to this. One was the ongoing deliberations on the proposals, the other was making sure that Comic-Con, WonderCon and APE continued without any interruption or hindrance. This decision allows us to now focus all of our time on each of our shows. And for that I can tell you I am personally grateful.


While industry reaction should be all over the comics Internet tomorrow and throughout the weekend, not to mention the raw feed that you get via twitter and through those who use blogs, and with assurances we'll definitely cover some of that at CR as it develops, I first wanted to check in with one of my personal go-tos on Comic-Con related issues, Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds. Reynolds has been attending or exhibiting at the show for more than half of his life, and as an employee of a comics company has come to represent for me the kind of comics-focused point of view of the show that some folks have insinuated isn't the show's primary concern any longer. I wondered how he saw this particular decision, or if it mattered too him at all.

image"My initial thought when I read your email was, 'Wow, great!' Which, honestly, is not necessarily what I would have assumed my reaction would be," Reynolds told CR. "I really haven't had a horse in this race and have never had a strong opinion on what I wanted them to do. What do I know? I know that part of me liked the idea of an expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas every summer, even though I don't rationally believe Vegas would be a good fit; I just like to gamble. I think I was more opposed to the show moving to Los Angeles/Anaheim than I was in favor of it staying in SD or going anywhere else. I'm not even sure why I was opposed to it, because I love visiting L.A. But it would just feel like we let the terrorists win at that point. Yes, I just compared Hollywood to Al-Qaeda. At least it wasn't Hitler."

"Really, though, I've been going to Comic-Con since I was about 12. Almost 30 years. And there's something to be said for the continuity that Comicon has established in San Diego. So I think I'm quite pleased by the decision. Now if they would just build a walking bridge over Harbor Drive we'll really be in business!"

The official announcement can be found here: CCI_SD_Announcement_f.pdf

posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink

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