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Mayor Faulconer: Comic-Con To Stay In San Diego Through 2021

Fans leave the convention center on Day One of Comic-Con International held a...

Photo by Associated Press

Above: Fans leave the convention center on Day One of Comic-Con International held at the San Diego Convention Center, July 21, 2016.

Comic-Con International is staying at the San Diego Convention Center through 2021, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Friday.

The popular entertainment and culture convention is San Diego's largest event each year and has called San Diego home since 1970, but its agreement to stay in San Diego was set to expire after next year's convention. Instead, Comic-Con renewed its agreement with the city for three more years.

Special Converage: San Diego Comic-Con International

"As people around the world know, Comic-Con goes with San Diego," Faulconer said at a news conference. "Over the last 48 years, it's an event that people all over the world have attended ... Today, I'm proud to announce the tradition is going to last even longer. Comic-Con is staying in San Diego until 2021."

Comic-Con is the "longest and most important convention in San Diego," San Diego Tourism Authority President Joe Terzi said, calling the convention "our Super Bowl." The event typically fills about 60,000 hotel rooms and adds about $135 million to the city's economy, Faulconer said.

But Comic-Con's board of directors has warned city officials the convention could leave San Diego after outgrowing the city's convention center, and other cities like Anaheim have been trying to snare the convention.

Faulconer, Terzi and Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer said the three-year extension does not negate the need to expand the convention center, which is one of the mayor's top priorities and an issue he tried to put to voters in a November special election before the City Council voted to leave the vote for the 2018 general election.

Earlier this month, the mayor was unable to get the City Council to schedule a special election for November, in order to place an expansion project before voters. His plan was to raise hotel room taxes to pay for

enlarging the facility by 400,000 square feet, and creating dedicated funding streams for street repairs and programs for the homeless.

Since the special election proposal was defeated, Faulconer's expansion plan wasn't considered by the council — though it could land on the November 2018 general election ballot. A previous financing plan was successfully challenged in court.

The city faces another obstacle in that land needed for a larger convention center is now controlled by an entity called Fifth Avenue Landing, which is obligated by its lease with the Port of San Diego to build hotels on the property. The port owns the land along the bayfront, including under the convention center.

"These three additional years are going to go by real quickly," Faulconer said. "Our convention center must be expanded if we want to keep Comic-Con and other major events in our city."

The extended agreement means Comic-Con will celebrate its 50th pop culture convention in San Diego in 2019.

"Today is a day of celebration," Glanzer said during the news conference. "We're incredibly happy about this agreement."

The deal came following months of negotiations between city and convention center officials, the tourism authority and area hotels, which offer overflow event space and blocks of rooms.

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