The Orange County Register’s lead editorial today suggests that Comic-Con, the world’s largest pop culture event, has outgrown its location in San Diego and that Anaheim could handle the event as the Anaheim Convention Center has nearly 300,000 more square feet of space to house the massive nerdprom.
In a few words: no Anaheim can’t. They can’t handle Comic-Con. And its not even close.
Anaheim can barely handle D23, the huge Disney-themed event, or WonderCon, operated by the Comic-Con management company. I’ve attended all three events and if Comic-Con ever leaves its San Diego origins, Los Angeles or even Las Vegas are more likely venues than Anaheim, more capable of handling Comic-Con. A pop culture event at the Anaheim Convention Center is just not a great fit. Not one that attracts 150,000 a day like Comic-Con does in San Diego.
For starters, D-23 is coming up in about two weeks; the last show, held in 2011, had massive show registration problems that had people waiting up to 90 minutes just to get in the building. WonderCon, which uses similar registration methods that Comic-Con uses, also had a significant wait. At Comic-Con, you can show up just as the doors are opening, breeze in a get a badge and be on the show floor very quickly.
From the Register’s editorial:
Simply put, the convention, now a marketing bonanza for science-fiction and fantasy films, TV shows, video games and other pop-culture media, looks forward to an unknown future, it has grown too large for the venue it has called home since nearly its inception and if the organizers wish to grow any further they will have to spread out to larger accommodations or hang up their capes in Southern California.
It is the same predicament Comic-Con faced in 2010 when the event had to cap attendance at 130,000 because of the limited space the 550,000-square-foot San Diego Convention Center could offer. But a last-minute offer from downtown San Diego hoteliers to provide 300,000 square feet of free space and a multiyear, more than $300,000 a year, convention center discount was enough to lock in the organizers until 2016, as reported by the U-T San Diego.
In Anaheim, there is a significant lack of parking around the convention center that you wouldn’t find in San Diego or Los Angeles. Traffic congestion around the resort is bad too especially with foot traffic. And don’t get me started on the lack of available restaurants and bars close by. At WonderCon, held in March, patrons had an overcrowded food court and a series of Food Trucks as options to the food inside the convention hall.
In San Diego, the GasLamp District is an idea place to spill out into for post convention dinner and drinks. LA Live offers a similar opportunities. There’s the Staples Center in LA to host the popular “Walking Dead Escape” now held at Petco Park; there’s no place to host this in Anaheim that’s near the convention center unless you’re shuttle-busing people to the Big A.
The Register cites Anaheim’s proximity to Hollywood-based movie studios without taking into account a number of studios don’t do big booth’s at ComicCon anymore (Disney being one); and if that’s a criteria, then Los Angeles is much closer to Hollywood than Anaheim. There’s a lot more parking, proximity to cheap hotels and plenty of restaurants and bars near LA Live making it a better home for Comic-Con should the event ever leave San Diego.
As much as I tire of the long drive to San Diego and back over the 4-day weekend, I can’t see Anaheim being a suitable replacement for San Diego.