Comic-Con Brings Big Bucks to San Diego

     SAN DIEGO (CN) — Thousands of visitors decked out in their finest comic-book costumes descended on San Diego this week for the annual Comic-Con event, which funnels more than $135 million into city coffers over the jam-packed 4-day affair.
     This year’s festival is expected to attract more than 130,000 domestic and international fans and pump at least $135 million into the local economy, according to the Convention Center Corp. The San Diego Convention Center has hosted the festival every summer since 1991, bringing hundreds of additional jobs to the region.
     Of the 75 or so special conventions hosted at the convention center every year, Comic-Con requires 100 percent of the 500-member staff, with center staff spending additional days setting up and breaking down the event. Accounting for convention center staff alone, Comic-Con brings in more than $320,000 in wages to the local economy, according to the San Diego Workforce Partnership.
     Many San Diego companies of all sizes capitalize on the tourist draw of Comic-Con by creating event-specific products and events aimed at tapping into a new consumer audience. Up-and-coming cookie shop The Cravory rolled out a line of Comic-Con-inspired cookies including a pink donut cookie inspired by “The Simpsons” and a strawberry-flavored cookie topped with Wonder Woman’s iconic logo. Internationally recognized craft brewery Stone Brewery held their fourth annual “Hop Con” on July 20 where a $75.00 ticket bought beer lovers tastings of comic book-themed brews.
     The significant financial impact of Comic-Con on the San Diego region is one of the major reasons Mayor Kevin Faulconer is pushing for the expansion of the convention center. The event has all but outgrown its current digs, with other local if not unorthodox venues like the San Diego Public Library’s new downtown location and the New Children’s Museum hosting off-site events to help accommodate the hoards of fans. Many downtown hotels also host panel discussions and events where attendees are required to have an event badge in order to attend.
     Comic-Con’s marketing and public relations director David Glanzer even went public this year to make the case for adding on to the existing convention center, in an opinion piece published in The Union-Tribune. He said having all exhibitors under one roof is “considerably more beneficial for attendees and show organizers.”
     “We are San Diego-born and the fact that America’s finest city has embraced our quirky, geeky, nerdy event and continues to proudly and rightly champion it as its own is not lost on us. And because of this we honestly hope to remain in San Diego for many more years to come,” Glanzer wrote.
     Two initiatives just approved for the November ballot will let San Diego voters decide if raising hotel taxes significantly in order to build a downtown stadium for the San Diego Chargers and expand the convention center may just help San Diego keep its biggest event for years to come.

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