Comic-Con Museum to open in Balboa Park

San Diego Comic-Con International will open a museum of popular culture in Balboa Park under an agreement announced Thursday by the San Diego Hall of Champions and its Breitbard Hall of Fame.

“The Hall of Champions has our deepest appreciation in helping us to achieve the new chapter in Comic-Con history,” a Comic-Con spokesman said. “This center will provide a year-round interactive celebration of the innumerable aspects of popular art.”

The Breitbard Hall of Fame — which commemorates decades of local sports heroes — will move to Petco Park’s Western Metal Building, and many of the historical items in the Hall of Champions will be housed at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

“Bob Breitbard was one of San Diego’s greatest sports leaders,” said Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler, who also chairs the Hall of Champions board. “The San Diego Hall of Champions is an important community asset, and this move positions the organization for a bright, sustainable future. The Padres are glad to welcome the Breitbard Hall of Fame of Petco Park.”

Dan Shea, a Hall of Champions board member, said the museum would close down in several months and items on loan, such as from the Padres and Chargers, would be returned to their owners. The items and archives not turned over to the History Museum will be auctioned off.

The museum has nine months to vacate the building and turn it over to Comic-Con. The official transfer of authority to Comic-Con took place Thursday after months of negotiations with the city.

Shea said the sports museum, with a skeletal staff of six, could not carry on, even with income from renting out the facility for special events.

“It’s the changing world of museums and how people use them,” Shea said. “It just got to the point where, long term, it was understood it was not going to drive the [visitor] traffic that would make it sustainable.”

The most recent tax return in 2015 from the Hall of Champions indicated expenses of more than $1.5 million and income of $986,810. Admissions totaled only $48,509.

Shea said the Hall of Fame, consisting of plaques and other items would be relocated possibly as early as this summer to the ground level of the Western Metals Building that occupies the western edge of Petco Park. The hall’s annual awards program and other activities will continue.

Comic-Con has not released any details of what it has in mind for the museum. However, the announcement could indicate that the nonprofit was committing to a long-term presence in San Diego, beyond its present agreement to hold its main convention at the San Diego Convention Center that expires after next year.

Convention and tourism officials have been negotiating with Comic-Con to extend its agreement even as they try to expand the center to accommodate Comic-Con and other big conventions.

Comic-Con attracts more than 130,000 attendees annually.

roger.showley@sduniontribune.com

Showley writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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