Considered San Diego's largest annual show, Comic-Con International continues to gain popularity, pushing the city's Convention Center to its full capacity. This year, it is estimated that a 126,000 superhero enthusiasts will descend on sunny San Diego to geek out over their favorite subculture Thursday through Sunday.
Comic-Con was first held in 1970 at San Diego’s U.S. Grant hotel, where it attracted 300 people. As it expanded, the event was later held at the El Cortex Hotel in the 1970’s, San Diego Convention and Performing Arts Center in the 1980’s and the newly built SDCC in 1991.
This year, the festival will celebrate its 43rd anniversary, complete with upcoming studio and television network production previews, celebrities, entertainment professionals and comic buffs.
In 2007, the SDCC reached maximum capacity and was forced to cap the festival's attendance to 125,000 people.
In an effort to meet with increasing demands, the nonprofit organization considered proposals to host the event at larger venues in Los Angeles and Anaheim. In 2010, the organization announced its decision to renew lease and stay in San Diego until 2015, largely due to the facilities upcoming plans for a $550 million expansion.
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"In the end, we feel this decision is the best for all those who attend Comic-Con and for the organization itself. We are happy that the community has worked with us to ensure that we remain here,” David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s director of marketing and public relations said.
Due to begin at the end of this year, the expansion will add approximately 220,150 square feet of exhibit hall space, 101,500 square feet of meeting rooms and 78,470 square feet of ballroom space to the existing facility.
Public amenities will include a five-acre rooftop park/plaza accessible to the public with lighted paths, seating areas, an open lawn/performance area and several observation vistas.
The Mayor's Citizen Task Force estimated that the expansion is expected to generate $698 million of economic activity annually in addition to the $1.3 billion a year the Convention Center already generates.
According to San Diego tourism officials, this year Comic-Con alone will boost $75 million in direct spending and $2.6 million in tax revenues for the area.