Comic-Con flirts with Anaheim and Los Angeles


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Los Angeles Times business writer Hugo Martin has the latest on Comic-Con International and its future...

Call it a clash of the titans.

San Diego has been home to the wildly successful comic book and pop culture convention Comic-Con International for nearly 40 years. But with the four-day festival surging in popularity and outgrowing the San Diego Convention Center, Los Angeles and Anaheim are vying to steal the lucrative show away.

‘Wherever it goes, that would be a very significant convention to land,’ said Doug Ducate, president of theCenter for Exhibition Industry Research, a Dallas-based nonprofit group that tracks the convention and trade show industry.

The organizers are under contract to stay put until 2012 but are contemplating a future home with more meeting space and cheaper hotel rooms.


Convention organizers say they plan to stay in Southern California, narrowing their options to San Diego, Los Angeles and Anaheim. All three cities have offered proposals to host the celebration of graphic novels, sci-fi, fantasy and superheroes.

For good reason: They want the crowds.

Every summer, the convention draws about 125,000 attendees, who spend about $60 million on hotels, meals, transportation and other expenses during the gathering.

This year’s event will be held July 22-25. Tickets for three of the four days are already sold out.

The efforts to entice Comic-Con to leave San Diego are the latest example of an ongoing rivalry between Los Angeles and Anaheim to snag the nation’s biggest and most profitable conventions and trade shows.

Each of the cities has its own strengths. Los Angeles can emphasize its proximity to the Hollywood studios behind the flood of movies about superheroes, aliens and space travel. Anaheim’s selling point is Disneyland, the popular, 85-acre theme park within walking distance of its convention center.

Meanwhile, San Diego may try to keep Comic-Con by pointing to its long history with the convention as well as the ocean views from the doorstep of its convention center.


With the resurgence of graphic novels and the booming popularity of superhero-themed movies, Comic-Con has grown to reach maximum capacity at the 615,700-square-foot San Diego Convention Center, said David Glanzer, a spokesman for Comic-Con International.

Because of the space limitation, the convention has had to limit the number of attendees to approximately 125,000. ‘Capping our attendance also caps our income,’ Glanzer said.

In the last few years, visitors have also complained about the high price of hotel rooms in San Diego, he said.

But relocating could have drawbacks. Many people may attend the convention partly because of its seaside location, next to San Diego’s Gaslamp district, Ducate said.

‘Any time you move, there is some risk,’ he said. ‘There is a comfort zone in where you are...’


-- Hugo Martin



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PHOTOS: Los Angeles Times.