With 125,000 people attending the San Diego Comic Con, the city of San Diego is bursting at the seems. With a limit on the number of people that can get into the convention hall, and growth expected, is it time for Comic Con International to move the show somewhere else?
Itâ€™s the question thatâ€™s been popping up the last couple of year as the biggest comic convention in North America first sold out on Saturdays, then two days, and now for two years in a row, the entire four day show is sold out long before the show even opens.
With Hollywoodâ€™s great interest in hyping the target demographic (who would have known the Twilight Cast panel would have been the epicenter of fan girl screaming), and with a dramatic increase in the number of comic related television shows and movies coming in the next two years, Comic Con International is going to be the place to see and be seen.
Since Hollywood is one of the big factors with CCI: San Diego, being within an hourâ€™s flying time from L.A. puts a limit on major cities that could host the show.Â With this in mind, here are three places CCI could go that would really work; San Diego, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles.
Even if the Hâ€™wood crowd were left out of the equation, the growing size of the convention is a big concern.Â Thousands of fans end up getting stuck in long lines waiting to get into the show once the halls fill to capacity, and if the show wants to grow, it will need an increase in bodies.
San Diego Convention Center
From the convention center website, there are approximately 796,362 square feet in the convention center, making it a pretty good space to hold record crowds.
Los Angeles Convention Center
On the flip side, the LA Convention Center only has 720,000 square feet, making it the smallest convention center on the list.
Las Vegas Convention Center
The biggest of the big is no doubt the Las Vegas convention center that boasts 3.2 million square feet, including 144 meeting rooms.Â Since one doesnâ€™t have to use the entire convention space, there is certainly plenty of room to grow for years to come.
Location is everything when it comes to having a fun and safe time at a comic book convention.Â Iâ€™ve heard people complain that certain conventions are located in really bad parts of town, there isnâ€™t much to do within walking distance, and transportation really sucks.Â So how do the three contenders stack up when it comes to location?
There are, surprisingly, a lot of things to do that are within walking distance of the convention center.Â For those who donâ€™t want to spend five days in the convention center proper, San Diego has a wealth of museums and parks, the Padres might be in town playing a game, and the beach is just a few blocks away.Â For food fanatics, the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego has it all.Â And for those who want something a little more extreme TJ is just over the border – just make sure you bring your passport, two forms of I.D. and know what a donkey show is before your friends get you liquored up and take you to one.Â Not that I would know first hand…
Even though the Los Angeles Convention Center can hold 5,600 cars, Iâ€™ve been to the convention center enough times to know it is a place I donâ€™t want to venture too far from after dark – the neighborhoods surrounding LACC can get pretty scary, and a costumed convention goer would make an easy target.Â While the beach, dining locations, movie studios, and shopping are within a few miles of the centrally located convention center, youâ€™ll need a car, cab, or public transit to get there safely.Â Sadly, thereâ€™s just not much going on in the near vicinity.
I love Las Vegas!Â The city has it all, and with its location to the strip just a monorail ride away, conventioneers are moments away from everything.Â Movies, shows, shopping, and more food than you could ever eat in one sitting are all there.Â Add in the gambling and numerous bars, and you have something that will keep anyone occupied.Â Wouldnâ€™t it be cool to see Iron Man, Batman, and the Hulk shooting craps?Â I’m sure the publishers would object to that, as would the casino pit bosses, but it would be fun none the less.
If you are going to a show, you need a place to stay.
There are a lot of hotels in the area, but if you donâ€™t get a hotel room the day the bookings open, you are pretty much out of luck.Â It seems during the convention, room rates jump to anywhere from $200 to $300+ a night.Â A four day stay is going to easily set you back close to $1,000.
Iâ€™ve had friends who stayed an hour or so away from the convention center and then drive in everyday, but thatâ€™s gotta suck just to save a few bucks.
There are some very nice hotels in Los Angeles, too bad they are a distance from the convention center.Â Room rates are going to vary, plus youâ€™ll have to find some way of getting to and from the show.
The best part about the LVCC is it is connected to the Hilton hotel, that alone can accommodate 100,000 people.Â And donâ€™t forget it has the awesome Star Trek Experience and Quarkâ€™s bar that should satisfy most of the Trekkers or Trekies attending the show.
Prices for rooms in Las Vegas vary, but they are on par with San Diego.Â Room rates run from $500 – $1000 for a weekâ€™s stay. but for those attending the show for a night or two, remember the weekend rates get quite a bump.
For the rest of us, the monorail gets you to and from select hotels in no time.Â Iâ€™m a big fan of the Sahara and Flamingo, but if you are looking for a place to park your stuff and you donâ€™t care about decor, the Imperial Palace has the cheapest rooms on the strip.
Sure, you could stay at a small hotel within a block or two of the strip, they arenâ€™t glamourous, and on at least two occasions, Iâ€™ve stayed at a non-strip hotel, where I was told be careful walking through the parking lot after dark.Â Remember, itâ€™s Las Vegas, live it up.
Getting to and from the convention center easily is a must.
Free shuttle service to and from select hotels and parking lots.Â Most hotels have shuttle service to and from the airport.
Iâ€™m sure the same deal can be made with hotels in the LA area.
Monorail all the way.Â Get a 10 ride pass for $20, and youâ€™re set.Â I would love to see a battalion of Storm Troopers squeezing on to the monorail – a whole coffee table book of photos just from the platforms and cars alone would be worth moving the show to Vegas.Â Cab rides arenâ€™t cheap in any city, but to get a club or other hotel not easily accessible by monorail, is way to go.
This is the one category San Diego wins time and time again.Â With temperatures this week in the mid 70s, you can walk around without sweating your ass off.Â Los Angeles comes in a close second with temps in the mid 80s, but nothing is more brutal than Las Vegas in the summer.Â Temps this week topped out at 106, which can be dangerous for people in costume.Â Fortunately, the LVCC is climate controlled, and save for the time spent on the monorail platform, conventioneers can walk around in air-conditioned comfort.
Move or Stay
When weighing all the options, the organizers of Comic Con International: San Diego have a tough choice ahead of them.Â If they are content with capping the number of attendees and turning away fans at the door, then I say donâ€™t move the show.Â With the large number of things to do in the area, and wonderful weather year round, San Diego canâ€™t be beat.
If however, the show wants to expand (which I think it should), and doesnâ€™t mind high temperatures, then Las Vegas is where the show needs to move to.Â For those with long memories, there used to be a comic convention in Las Vegas for a number of years, but dwindling numbers shut the show down.Â With Hâ€™wood and CCI behind a convention in Vegas, I think it would work, and with enough support CCI: Las Vegas could be the biggest convention in the world, beating out the ones held in Japan.
I’m not a logistics person, so I don’t know if the show can move in one year, but I would bet a 2011 or 2012 date could be made.Â I’m also not privy to any of the contract information CCI may have with the convention center. For all I know, CCI could be locked into San Diego for the next 10 years.
UPDATE: I’ve been informed, CCI has a contract with the convention center until 2012, so unless some breaking of contracts are made, look for the show to be sold out for the next four years.
Comic Con International: Las Vegas – how does that sound to you?