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Comic-Con, By the Numbers

Comic-Con is the city’s biggest convention and boosters are determined to keep it for the long haul.

The Con is almost upon us.

Tens of thousands of costumed visitors, vendors and celebrities will swoop into town for Comic-Con later this week.

The success of the annual comic and pop culture extravaganza has helped fuel downtown boosters’ years-long quest to expand the Convention Center, which Comic-Con has outgrown. Those same leaders tout the exposure and cash the event brings to San Diego, and they’re pushing the convention to commit to the city for another two years despite the now-stalled expansion.

I pulled together some stats that help put Comic-Con’s local impact in perspective.

4

Approximate number of days Comic-Con takes over downtown San Diego. The convention officially kicks off Thursday morning though organizers host a preview night on Wednesday evening.

134,225

Number of people who came to San Diego for Comic-Con in 2008, according to a lodging survey by CIC Research, a firm that conducts research for the Convention Center Corp. and the Tourism Authority.

The 2008 study is the most recent analysis of Comic-Con attendance and hotel bookings.

That report also found about 420 were travelers who accompanied Comic-Con attendees or didn’t purchase badges for the event, and about 28 percent of attendees were San Diego County residents.

Comic-Con has capped the number of registrants at 130,000 in recent years, mostly because it’s outgrown the Convention Center.

100

Approximate number of people who attended the first Comic-Con in March 1970 at the U.S. Grant Hotel. Organizers raised money from that event (which they referred to as a Minicon) and used the proceeds to hold a three-day gathering at the same hotel – then known as the Golden State Comic-Con – that drew about 300 people.

2,040

Number of formal programs, panels, meetups and displays listed on Comic-Con’s public schedule from Tuesday through Sunday. Organizers say they’ve put together about 700 hours of programming.

$135.9 million

The projected regional economic boon tied to Comic-Con, according to the Convention Center Corp.

This is down from last year’s $178 million estimate, a result of the agency’s decision to go with a more conservative projection after a 2014 Voice of San Diego story pointed out issues with the previous approach.

There are still some issues with this estimate, though. For one, it’s based on that 2008 lodging survey, and the convention’s changed since then. And it incorporates spending assumptions associated with more than two dozen conventions other than Comic-Con, which attracts a different crowd than most of the center’s big events.

Boosters expect Comic-Con attendees to directly spend $80.4 million. This means the average attendee would drop about $619 in the city.

$2.8 million

Tax revenues expected to flow to city coffers thanks to Comic-Con, according to the same Convention Center Corp.-funded economic study.

Local hotels, restaurants, bars and retailers take in the rest of the cash.

126,280

The number of hotel room nights associated with Comic-Con, per the 2008 study.

Some local hotels have reached agreements with Comic-Con to offer discounted room blocks. Last year, those hotels offered up 55,772 rooms through those deals.

51 percent

Amount of Comic-Con attendees who stayed in hotels in 2008, according to the lodging study.

Where Comic-Con Attendees Stayed in 2008

15 percent

Percentage of total Convention Center attendance the facility projects will be attributed to Comic-Con in 2015.

With about 130,000 attendees, Comic-Con is by far the facility’s largest convention.

Its second-largest – the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon – expected to bring in 60,000 in May. The city’s No. 3 convention, the Realtors Conference and Expo in November, is projected to draw 19,000 people.

3,000

The number of reporters, bloggers and other media folks registered to cover Comic-Con.

$15 million

Approximate revenue Comic-Con, a nonprofit, reported in a 2013 federal tax filing. It also reported $12.1 million in expenses.

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