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Comic-Con’s Three-Year Economic Impact: $488.4 Million

Direct spending by those attending the convention in 2013, 2014 and 2015 is expected to total $203.4 million

Comic-Con, the San Diego Convention Center’s largest annual event in terms of economic impact, attendance and hotel room use by attendees, is expected to generate an economic impact of $488.4 million between 2013 and 2015, according to a study released by the San Diego Convention Center Corp.
The study also showed that direct spending by attendees during the three convention years would total $203.4 million and hotel tax revenue would total $7.9 million. Sales tax revenue would total $442,000 and room nights would total 378,000.
Comic-Con International, the organization that produces the popular convention, recently agreed to keep the event in San Diego through 2015 — its current contract comes to an end in 2012 — despite heavy lobbying from Anaheim and Los Angeles. Hotel operators and city officials were able to keep the convention by offering larger hotel room blocks, discounted room rates and other incentives. “We are grateful to the hospitality community who came together and committed themselves to this effort,” said Carol Wallace, president and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corp.
In fiscal year 2009, Comic-Con delivered $162.8 million in regional economic impact and $67.8 million in direct spending by attendees, according to convention center officials.
A study commissioned by the convention center corporation using 2008 data showed that more than half of Comic-Con attendees stay in hotels and an estimated 126,000 hotel room nights are used by people staying an average of 4.1 nights at a rate of $199. The study said spending on hotel rooms alone was $25 million, which translates into more than $2.6 million in hotel room taxes going into the city’s general fund. The study also showed that $147,000 in sales tax revenue was generated by Comic-Con attendees for that year.
The extension of the Comic-Con contract to 2015 comes at the same time that the convention center corporation is moving ahead on plans to expand the convention center, a project that would cost an estimated $750 million.
The proposed expansion would add 200,000 to 250,000 square feet of exhibit space, 100,000 square feet of meeting rooms and 80,000 square feet of multi-purpose ballrooms. A proposed hotel project would include 250-500 guest rooms, ballroom/meeting space, retail and parking.
In August, the convention center corporation named five architectural teams to compete for the right to design the expansion. Selection of the team to perform the work is expected this month.
The competing design teams are:
• Gensler in association with Steven Brubaker.
• Howard, Needles, Tammen and Bergendoff California Architects, P.C. (HNTB) in association with Tucker Sadler Architects and Joseph Wong Design Associates.
• LMN in association with Carrier Johnson and Hornberger + Worstell • Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP.
• Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates, Inc. in association with Martinez + Cutri and ARCHITECTS hanna gabriel wells.
The staff of the San Diego Port District, which is the landlord of the Covention Center property, is to select a consultant to conduct an environmental impact report on the proposed expansion. A consultant is expected to be selected in December.
The expansion is expected to generate $698 million of economic activity annually in addition to the $1.3 billion a year that the Convention Center already generates.

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