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Comic-Con – Boon or Bust for San Diego

Written By | Aug 2, 2014

WASHINGTON, August 2, 2014 – Comic-Con is San Diego’s largest annual event. The convention, which was first held in 1970 may be leaving Southern California in search of bigger digs to meet the ever-expanding crowds that flock to the mild climate to commune with comic and pop culture fans and have the chance to meet their favorite actors.

Who are often walking around in costume, mingling with the crowd, unbeknownst to the fans.

Comic-Con was founded by Shel Dorf, Richard Alf and Ken Krueger.  That first mini-con attracted bout 100 people, was a one-day event held at San Diego’s historic U.S. Grant Hotel as a precursor to the first Comic-Con, which tripled in size to 300 attendees and was held in August of that year.

This year, estimated attendees to the event are 140,000 along with 1,000 exhibitors of everything from new pop culture television shows to vendors selling collectible comic books and related toys packing the relatively massive 460,000 square feet San Diego Convention Center.

Comic-Con International generates $165 million, give or take every year.

Overall expected economic impact for the city for the years 2013-2015 (the last year the convention is contracted to be held at the SDCC) is $488.4 million according to a SDCC study.  The study shows that the city stands to benefit from $203.4 in what they term direct spending, $7.9 million in hotel tax revenue and sales tax revenue of $442,000.

As the convention expands, organizers are considering moving it to another city setting up a bidding war from cities like Anaheim, Las Vegas and Los Angeles starting in 2017. A previous contract had the convention returning through 2015, however an extension has them in Southern California through 2016.

San Diego does not want to lose the comic book geeks and cos-player dressed like all manners of freaks, cyborgs and super heroes.

However not everyone is reporting that Comic-Con is a financial boon to its host city.

From the article Large Crowds Spend Little at Comic-Con By MICHAEL CIEPLY and BROOKS BARNES (JULY 27, 2014):

But the Comic-Con fans were expected to spend only about $603 each during a convention that began Wednesday night and ran through Sunday. And that was only a little more than a third of the per-capita spending by those who showed up for the American Association for Cancer Research gathering in April, and similarly lower than per-person spending at the next three largest conventions in San Diego.

At Comic-Con, dining out is apt to mean eating a sandwich while squatting on a city street. McCormick & Schmick’s, a high-end seafood restaurant across from the convention center, sold wraps from a cart, two for $10. At midday on Thursday, more than 150 people stood in line at a nearby Subway.

 “For everything? I would say, like, $50,” said Arnold Duong, a fan who was dining on the sidewalk on Thursday, when asked how much he and each of his two friends had budgeted per day for their Comic-Con experience.

The relatively youthful audiences is not eating at high end restaurants, are more than likely sharing a single room among a small group, and are not drinking $14 martinis. But if you do brave the crowds, make sure you put Kansas City Barbeque on your list of dining choices.

From the Kansas City Barbeque website history

“The original structure was used in a scene in which Goose and Maverick (played by Anthony Edwards and Tom Cruise, respectively) belt out “Great Balls of Fire” while seated at the piano. The now famous line by Meg Ryan, “Goose, you big stuuuuuud! Take me to bed now or lose me forever!” was uttered in the dining area of Kansas City Barbeque. The bar was also used in the final scene, where the song “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” is heard playing on the jukebox.”

A fire destroyed the original building in June 2006. And while the original bar and memorabilia is gone, the BBQ is still great!









Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award-winning writer and wanderer. She turns her thoughts to an eclectic mix of stories - from politics to sports. Restless by nature and anxious to experience new things, both in the real world and online, Jacquie mostly shares travel and culinary highlights, introduces readers to the chefs and creative people she meets and shares the tips, life and travel information people want to read.