Photos by Tom and Nadin Abbott
Comicon started at the El Cortez hotel fifty years ago. About 300 people attended the convention, and it was mostly heaven for comics collectors. It was a place to talk comics, and exchange some from the Golden Age of comics. It had somewhat of an educational flavor, and from early on it had a teaching function.
The event has grown to the largest convention held at the San Diego Convention Center from those humble beginnings. In the fiscal year 2018, the San Diego Convention center generated $1.1 Billion for the regional economy. Of that, Comicon generated $147.1 million with 135,000 attendees. Many of these people stay at local hotels and consume goods and services which translates to funds for the city of San Diego general fund
This is a large part of the general fund, and this translates to money for public safety, roads, and other spending lines. Comicon has gone from a very small little event, which at times people made fun off, to a critical event. It is well beyond Comicon. The Metropolitan Transit system wraps the trains with specially themed events and it is the busiest time of the year.
This year Lyft got into the act as well, with some special discounts.
Our walk around the convention center had plenty of activities, as well as people. Though at nine in the morning it felt like the crowds were somewhat lighter than past years. When we left at 10:30 it still felt lighter than other years.
So we will wait for the official numbers. However, 135,000 is the maximum the convention center can handle. This has been an issue between the city and Comicon for years. And as usual, they are threatening to leave to Los Angeles or Orange County if the city does not vote for the Convention Center expansion. They say they will leave by 2024. However, where exactly in Los Angeles or Orange County can they have the kind of largesse and facilities that the city gives them.