Monday, May 3, 2010

Why Comic-Con Shouldn't Leave San Diego

There's been a lot of talk lately about Comic-Con leaving its home of 40 years, San Diego, and moving to another city when its contract is up in 2015. With official bids coming from Anaheim and Los Angeles, complete with Facebook pages failing to get anywhere near as much support as the Keep Comic-Con in San Diego page is getting, con-goers are beginning to get vocal about their opinions.

Needless to say, it's been frustrating. As a close friend to the convention and 22 consecutive year attendee, I find every argument for leaving San Diego to be completely invalid, and it has nothing to do with Nic Cage's hair being a bird. So I've decided to go point by point and explain exactly why anywhere but San Diego is bad news...and why anywhere but San Diego WON'T be happening.

A lot of people are arguing that if Comic-Con moves to either Anaheim, LA or Vegas, there will no longer be hotel issues.
Allow me to clear this up.
Any hardship that comes with nabbing a hotel room will not change with a new city.
Downtown San Diego is all but shut down during Comic-Con, every hotel is filled with nothing but geeks, the restaurants offer themed menus, the bars throw geek party after geek party - some venues are even turned into events themselves like last year's Tron Legacy viral or Bear McCreary's taking over of the House of Blues.
This is because for 40 years, Comic-Con has been in San Diego and every year, predominantly over the last 15 years, as the convention grows, the city has subtley shifted more and more into dedicating itself wholly to nothing but Comic-Con for one week in July.
In LA, Anaheim or Vegas, the other tourists, the events, the activities, will not disappear overnight. There is no way in hell any one of those three cities would suddenly become Comic-Con only, all of the time! In Anaheim, there's the Disney crowd, in Vegas there's the Vegas crowd (::shudder::) and in LA, you're in LA, surrounded by - I repeat - LA. And staying in hotels that aren't downtown (cause you'll have to) means dealing with LA/Downtown traffic every time you want to come & go to Comic-Con. Yeah. No. And the Metro Rail service is a joke, useless unless you are staying at a hotel right next to a Metro Station.  Plus more convention space means more attendees which means, oh look, no more hotel space than there was before. It's not like the same number of people would be tackling the hotel rooms, you'd have to add, what, 30-40,000 more on top of the 125,000 that attend now? And if you think these hotels won't take advantage of the extra business by screwing you just as much as the San Diego hotels do, you're out of your damn mind.
So you have all the extra con-goers to compete with, in addition to the people who are in that city, staying in those hotels, for entirely other, completely non-related purposes.
Plus, in any of those other cities, you will most likely have to drive your own car to the convention from your hotel. In San Diego there are tons of Comic-Con dedicated hotels within walking distance of the con, much more than any of the other cities can boast. And cheaper? LA, Disney-town or Vegas cheaper than San Diego? Really? Come on.

Surrounding Area
Much has been touted about how cool it would be for Comic-Con to be in LA, Anaheim or Vegas because OMG there are comic stores in LA! and omg Disneyland & Downtown Disney! Oh dude, GAMBLING! I'm sorry, but if you want to go to Disneyland, GO TO FUCKING DISNEYLAND. If you wanna gamble in vegas, GO GAMBLE IN VEGAS YOU DUMBASS. And if you want Comic Con to come to LA so you drive to Melrose and go to Golden Apple (which, by the way, COMES to Comic-Con & happens to throw great parties) I just wanna punch you in the face. One of LA's "plus" points on its facebook page is "It's not as dangerous as you think." Okay, that's awesome and everything, but you know which city isn't dangerous at all and doesn't need to clarify this fact? San Diego. And frankly, I can't think of very many scenarios at all where I would somehow end up drinking downtown and when I'm at Comic-Con, I DONT WANT TO DRIVE. Anaheim talking about being "driving distance from Downtown Disney for an after-con drink" reads like its begging us to think its cool, when I'm sorry, it's just not. Why in god's name would I ever want to drive to Downtown Disney to get a drink? Oh, I guess when my only alternative is drinking in the lobby of the Anaheim Radisson, I'd be more inclined. And don't even get me started on Vegas. Nothing sounds more
nightmarish than walking along the strip or god forbid, driving from some cheapo, disgusting off strip
hotel to the convention center every day, in 101 degree weather, competing with day-drunks for my side of the sidewalk and night-drunks for mysad, geeky corner of the bar. How do you any of you think that would actually be appealing?! In San Diego, there is a long established shuttle system that we already know works, for those of you who got placed far away from the convention center. For the tens of thousands of us who are within walking distance, we can not only walk to the con, but we can walk to seaport village, Horton Plaza, or most importantly, the gaslamp district, an entire mecca of bars & restaurants that dedicated itself to us geeks for 5 days and allows for proper drinkage without the worry of any driving whatsoever, dealing with Vegas drunks, or wanting to kill yourself because you're in Downtown Disney with a bunch of kids and beyond confused mid westerners. Guaranteed if Comic-Con were in any of those other three cities, the main parties would absolutely require driving. I hardly consider going to a party in San Diego if it's outside of the Gaslamp district, let alone DRIVING distance. This more or less completely eliminates the after hours community of Comic-Con, which has become just as important as the convention itself. You lose the chance of running into professionals at the Australian bar or walking past some VIPS walking to the hotel from a studio party. You lose part of the magic.

More Space
Sure, the convention center is crowded, in the past ten years Comic-Con has blown up, but with more people, has come more space. And San Diego has proposed adding on to the convention center even more, just for Comic-Con, because really, what event is bigger? But I'm not even on the boat of adding more space to the convention, necessarily. I don't think the convention SHOULD get any bigger. I think 130,000 is plenty and even if the convention center goes ahead and adds this new space, I don't think that means more tickets should be sold. Every event has a cap, every event sells a certain number of tickets and if something is sold out, it's gonna be packed, it's just what it is. If it moves to any other city and a bigger space, more tickets will be sold and the convention will be JUST as crowded. Plus, have any of those other convention centers even handled an event of this size and magnitude? San Diego has had years of growing, preparing, learning. Comic-Con is not just another convention so I don't wanna hear anything about "Well Vegas has this, and LA has this!" None of them are Comic-Con and NOTHING can be compared to Comic-Con. It's its own beast, entirely.
Not to mention, I went to the Anaheim Convention Center recently, and I know it's technically bigger than the San Diego Convention Center, but it sure didn't seem that way to me. It was gross, low ceilings, horrible carpeting, terrible vibe, cramped spaces and I only noticed 5 halls. I don't want Comic-Con there. Blech.

The bottom line here is whatever your problem is with San Diego will NOT be solved by moving to another city, and if you really think about it, you know I'm right. San Diego is the city that has nursed this convention from infancy, raised it, helped it grow, nourished it,  it's EARNED the right to call itself Comic-Con's home. It's EARNED the revenue gained from the convention every year. San Diego Comic Con is precisely that - San Diego Comic-Con. Always has been, always will be. It's not in the desert, it's not in the middle of nowhere, and it's not in the same city where all the talent already lives. It's a chance for everyone, fans, professionals, talent, studio execs to get away from home and spend a few days in a gorgeous bay-side city, with beautiful weather in a vibrant area that practically radiates geek and only geek non stop from Wednesday to Sunday. When exactly during Comic-Con were you planning on going to Disneyland? Thursday during Avatar's 25 minutes? Or Friday when your favorite comic book writer is signing? Was it Saturday during Lost's final panel? Or Sunday, the best day to do the Dealer's Room? When were you planning on gambling? Instead of the Wrath of Con party? Or was it instead of random late night dining with the entire cast of Futurama? Or do you prefer that to the first public screening of Shaun of the Dead at one of the two theaters within walking distance, that officially marks a few geeks from England as bonafide superstars? And if you really wanna move to downtown, select a designated driver and leave the convention before Kevin Smith even goes on in order to make it to a party in Hollywood on time, then be my guest, but you're missing out.

Comic-Con is my favorite event of every year and I'm not alone in this. I almost feel like these arguments for leaving San Diego are injuring my baby. Appreciate what you have, offer suggestions to San Diego, to the con, but don't betray its home of 40 years, don't encourage the convention to move someplace that can only be worse.

With a 732 million dollar proposal to add on to the SD convention center and a pedestrian walkway over Harbor blvd that should be done by July, thus eliminating the cluster fuck that is crossing the street, I don't see Comic-Con going anywhere. I wish that all of you, fans, pros & press alike, join with me in supporting keeping Comic-Con in San Diego. It's not going anywhere, mark my words, but it might be nice to show the convention (the non-profit convention that is for the FANS and only the FANS, because they make no profit, people, let's remind ourselves of that from time to time) heads that we have faith in them, we have faith in the city that bore Comic-Con and we have faith that despite any problems that may arise, San Diego Comic-Con is and always will be San Diego Comic-Con, which always has and always will, truly have the best interests of the Fan at heart.

Looking forward to my 23rd San Diego Comic-Con this July (yes, I'm 24), and encouraging you to become a fan of Keep Comic-Con In San Diego on Facebook by clicking here and following their Twitter, @KCCISD, here


P.S. Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons totally agrees with me :)

So you can see all sides:
-Stupid reasons to move to Anaheim, 8 from Anaheim and 5 from The Wrap.
-5 even stupider (I know that's not a word, shhhh) reasons to move to Los Angeles, from LA Weekly (This reads like the author has never been to Comic-Con and makes me want to throw my computer at a wall)


Karabou said...

WORD to all of this.

Despite the problems Comic Con does have (which are to be expected with ANY gathering as large), I can't imagine it being better in either of these three places. I LOVE Comic Con, and San Diego IS Comic Con to me. It's a beautiful city, and it would break my heart if Comic Con moved out of it. To be honest, I probably wouldn't go.

Erin W said...

As a native San Diegan I am, of course, totally biased, but I couldn't agree with you more on all counts. Well argued, excellent points, completely logical. KEEP COMIC CON IN SAN DIEGO!

EruditeChick said...

Everything in this article is so empirically obvious as to be farcical, AND YET, you HAD TO WRITE THIS BECAUSE PEOPLE JUST DON'T THINK.

Informative, hilarious, TRUE. Two thumbs up. Would read again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for echoing so many of the thoughts I posted (and have taken some crap for, from many angles) last year at K-Squared Ramblings, after enduring mumblings of VEGASVEGASVEGAS from everywhere at Hoteloween. It's good to know that there are other people out there who realize that minimal walking distance is essential not only for timely arrival at events and meals, but also for getting safely back to one's hotel. If CCI were to move to Vegas, we'd have to stop going just because of the pervasive smoking. And I'm glad you brought up that there is NOTHING around the LA Convention Center except random LA.

Thank you again, and may you have fewer "hay stopp trashin were i live" commenters than I've garnered.

The Girl said...

So say we all!

(And I live in LA, so I can trash my town as much as I like. It's got some great points, but a pedestrian-friendly, vibrant, interesting downtown is NOT one of them.)

wickedgoddess said...

I agree with all of this. The only thing that needs to be fixed is Travel Planners. Getting a hotel room should be much less of a hassle than it is now, but moving the Con to Vegas or L.A. won't fix that.

I love going to San Diego once a year for SDCC, and the gorgeous setting and weather add to the charm of the event. Love Comic Con right where it is.

Castling said...

I've never been to Comic-Con and feel no loyalty to San Diego BUT, as an Angelino, I don't want another event in LA that adds to the already horrific traffic.

Oh but there is stuff around the Convention Center! Downtown LA is fun, if you know where to go...but I agree that it's not meant to host this kind of an event.

Stacy said...

AMEN. I went last year for the first time ever - it being my second full summer as a San Diego resident, I had no excuse not to. Plus, these folks know what they're doing. Besides the allures of the city (as other have cited - pedestrian friendly, Con-folk friendly all around) itself, there's the people involved who know their schtick in and around San Diego Geek Weekend. It's a TRADITION, people, and with all the things San Diego does for Comic Con, don't we think that Comic Con should stay loyal to San Diego? Which, okay, biased, (esp since I've moved to a much less fun city) but San Diego is the best city ever. No smog, awesome public transportation, and eeeeverything is within walking distance. I really could go on.

EXCELLENT POINTS. This should get reposted whenever anyone nay-says.