Comic-Con International renews its contract with the city of San Diego, California, to keep SDCC in the city through 2024.

Comic-Con International (CCI), the entity that operates San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) and WonderCon, quietly reached a deal with the city of San Diego to continue to hold the pop culture festival at the San Diego Convention Center through the year 2024.

The current agreement between San Diego and CCI comes two years before the current agreement expires. Unlike previously, the organizers did not hold a press conference to announce the new agreement, nor did they put out a press release. As Clifford Rippetoe, CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corp toled the San Diego Union-Tribune, “It’s the 50th show for Comic-Con and they want the attention to be on that, so we didn’t plan any fanfare.”

Separately, CCI is currently negotiating with 60 hotel properties to cap the room rates at a 2% annual increase rather than the hoteliers allowing them to rise uncontrolled due to high demand. While the number of participating hotels has expanded from 56 in 2017, the nightly prices range from $187 to $456 and are usually sold out soon after the rooms are released in January.

A major part of the agreement was to secure the traditional July dates as well as to secure the significant discount that is traditional in the industry for shows of this size. Again, according to the Union-Tribune, CCI will pay $174,216 to rent the hall in 2022 a discount of $316,834. By 2024, the payment will rise only $3K to $177,027 instead of the normal $547,700 price.

And, the size of the convention is an ongoing concern that lead to the convention’s potential departure after the 2017 event.  As we reported then, the attendance at the 2,600,000 square foot waterfront facility is capped at  135,000 guests. Ticket sales are done by lottery at the beginning of the year. David Glanzer, CCI’s spokesman, pointed out that even though the number of attendees could not increase since 2006, “the cost to put on the show hasn’t been capped. Certainly, nobody expects to pay the same price for a loaf of bread that they paid 10, 20 years ago, but hopefully we can be here for a long time.” The increasing discounts on the part of the Convention Center do help offset CCI’s rising costs and there is a definite incentive for the city to keep the event at its home of 50 years. A few years back, a previous San Diego mayor noted that San Diego receives the equivalent economic boost to its coffers as a Super Bowl. And, unlike a Super Bowl, San Diego reaps this benefit every year.

To help ensure a long future ahead for Comic-Con in San Diego, voters will be asked to approve a bed tax on hotel rooms that will go towards expanding the Convention Center. Plans for a 33% increase in floor space were laid in 2012 with a 2016 completion date. These were delayed by a lawsuit from a property owner objecting to his view being blocked. Once the lawsuit was won, there were plans for a similar 2017 initiative, which would have funded the $600 million expansion project, This ballot initiative was put on hold after the owners of a 44-floor luxury hotel expressed opposition – in spite of overwhelming support from the other hotels in the area. Dean Spanos, the owner of the then-San Diego Chargers football team added a further wrinkle by paying for a vote on a competing plan that would have stymied growth of the Convention Center in favor of a publicly-funded stadium/hotel/convention center project a few hundred yards away.

Spanos’ project was soundly rejected by San Diego voters, falling way short of the 66% majority required, but it left the expansion plans still unfunded. If the expansion is completed, it is expected to bring in over a billion dollars of additional tax revenue over 40 years, with the proceeds not only paying off the bonds on the expansion project, but also finance road repairs and homeless services. Success of the initiative is far from assured, but both the city leadership, and CCI will be eagerly looking towards a positive vote by the citizens.

San Diego Comic-Con 50th exposition will open Wednesday, July 17 and run through Sunday the 21.


Wyatt D. Odd
Wyatt D. Odd