By City News Service
City officials Friday hailed the decision of Comic-Con International organizers to keep the massive popular culture gathering in San Diego, and capitalized on the announcement to push for the expansion of the Convention Center.
"San Diego has been home to Comic-Con for over 40 years and it's an honor to continue hosting this important event, which is now so much a part of the fabric of our community," Mayor Jerry Sanders said.
"Our bid was successful because of the combined efforts of our Convention Center team, the hotels and our entire hospitality community," he said. Comic-Con officials announced Thursday that San Diego had beat out Los Angeles and Anaheim as home to the convention through at least 2015.
The city offered expanded hotel room blocks, discounted rooms and other incentives to keep Comic-Con in San Diego, according to Convention Center officials.
"San Diego beat out some stiff competition, and the importance of expanding the Convention Center has been clearly demonstrated," said Bob Nelson, who chairs the San Diego Convention Center Corp. board.
A proposed $750 million expansion of the Convention Center, if ultimately is approved, would add more than 400,000 square feet to the facility.
Officials argue the expansion is needed to attract and retain large conventions, like Comic-Con. But opponents maintain the project is too expensive and that the money would be better spent elsewhere.
"Comic-Con's challenges fitting into the current facility underscore the importance of the mayor's efforts to expand the Convention Center," Nelson said. "The economic impact of conventions like Comic-Con in terms of local jobs, tax revenues and economic activity, not to mention the competitive nature of this industry, are critical to San Diego's future."
According to tourism officials, Comic-Con had a $162.8 million economic impact in San Diego last year.
Comic-Con has been held in San Diego since it started as a comic book fair in 1970. It has since grown into one of the premier popular culture events, featuring hundreds of exhibits, celebrity appearances, Hollywood film premiers and industry panels.
The four-day show annually attracts more than 125,000 people.