For more than a decade now, the looming shadow of San Diego Comic-Con has brought with it one nagging question from all corners of the entertainment industry: when will San Diego Comic-Con leave San Diego?
As unlikely a question as that might seem — other cities have their own conventions, after all, and taking SDCC out of San Diego could change the DNA of the show considerably — it’s one that was making headlines all the way back in 2010, when rumors started to emerge that the Anaheim Convention Center was reportedly looking to take the summertime show out of its hometown. Since then, rumors have periodically emerged that other Southern Californian locales — including Los Angeles — have approached organizers with the intent of attempting to lure the show elsewhere.
It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Comic-Con International — the organizing body behind San Diego Comic-Con — might decide to move the show; WonderCon, CCI’s other big annual event, has moved multiple times in the past two decades, initially going from the Bay Area to Anaheim in 2012, before moving to Los Angeles in 2016 and then returning to Anaheim the following year. Knowing that Anaheim and Los Angeles have both previously put feelers out about taking what we know as SDCC and placing it elsewhere, and also that CCI has previously demonstrated itself to be open to seemingly dramatic change, the idea of San Diego Comic-Con moving out of town is something that many people might want to take seriously.
San Diego Comic-Con has been held at the San Diego Convention Center since 1982, although a number of events have been held off-site for the majority of that time. (The 2022 show, for example, also included the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, the Manchester Grand Hyatt, the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina, San Diego Central Library, and multiple other additional locations.) Part of the earliest rumors about a potential move came about because of concerns that SDCC had simply outgrown the Convention Center, although plans to expand the Convention Center have been in play (and in flux) since 2008.
Despite the problems making those expansion plans a reality, Comic-Con International has extended its contractual relationship with the city a number of times in the past few years: in 2015, it extended through 2018; in 2017, with one year left on its contract, it extended again, through 2021, and then in 2019, that was extended again through 2024. Popverse has reached out to both the city and Comic-Con International to find out if the contract has been extended beyond next year, but as of writing, has received no response.
There’s certainly reason to believe that San Diego Comic-Con is going to stay in the city, not least of which being the simple fact that the Comic-Con International has invested significant amounts of money to be based in the city; in 2018, it paid $15 million to buy office space in the city, and it’s raised more than $25 million for the city’s permanent Comic-Con Museum.
“We've been approached by other cities, [but] I don't think anybody wants to leave San Diego,” Comic-Con International chief communications officer David Glanzer said all the way back in 2008 when discussing the idea. “I certainly don't. It's a perfect fit for us. It's expensive, whether it be paying for the street signs that tell you what streets are closed, or for any police or the hall or any of the myriad things, it's expensive. But it's a great city.”
When will San Diego Comic-Con leave San Diego? Based on all available evidence, the most likely answer is, “not anytime soon.” Sorry, Anaheim; you’ll always have WonderCon.
Wondering what to expect from this year’s SDCC? We’ve got some answers for you.