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San Diego Convention Center Set To Welcome Its First Show

San Diego Convention Center employees applaud during the ceremonial reopening of the San Diego Convention Center in downtown San Diego on July 30, 2021.
Matthew Bowler
San Diego Convention Center employees applaud during the ceremonial reopening of the San Diego Convention Center in downtown San Diego on July 30, 2021.

On Sunday, the San Diego Convention Center will open its doors for SPIE Optics and Photonics, its first show since March 2020.

At a reopening ceremony Friday, Convention Center President and CEO Rip Rippetoe said the County’s vaccination efforts played a large part in the return of events.

San Diego Convention Center Set To Welcome Its First Show
Listen to this story by Melissa Mae

“San Diego is among the most vaccinated of major convention destinations in the United States,” Rippetoe said. “More than 70% of our eligible population is fully vaccinated.”

RELATED: San Diego Convention Center To Reopen For Events On August 1

While meetings, trade shows and major conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con could not be staged during the COVID-19 shutdown, Rippetoe noted the facility served the community in other ways for the last 15 months.

“We never really shut down. We operated as a homeless shelter. We operated as an emergency intake site for unaccompanied minor children, so we’ve had more experience than most in operating through a pandemic,” Rippetoe said.

The convention center did take an economic hit.

“We lost 150 events over that 15 month period and it equated to $2 billion in economic impact into the community,” Rippetoe noted.

RELATED: Migrant Shelter At San Diego Convention Center Closing

The reopening comes amid new worries about the Delta variant. County Supervisor Nora Vargas addressed those concerns.

“They’re going to be requiring masks inside the convention center, but at this time we are just monitoring and doing whatever the safest guidelines are from CDC guidelines, et cetera,” Vargas said. “Right now, that’s just making sure people get vaccinated, but it’s not mandated to come into the convention center.”

Rippetoe said protocols are in place to keep people safe.

“Through October 1st, any show that has 5,000 attendees or more are required to show that they are either negative test or have been vaccinated,” Rippetoe said.

“We’ve gone through and done improvements on our ventilation systems,” Rippetoe continued. “We’ve put signage in restrooms talking about personal hygiene. We’ve got disinfecting stations throughout the venue for people.”

They also have a cleaning protocol that matches standards set by the California Department of Public Health and Cal-OSHA. Cleaning is done throughout the day.

Video: San Diego Convention Center Opens Doors After More Than A Year

Rippetoe knows the economic importance of the convention center reopening.

“We are an economic driver for the city and the region of San Diego. Our job is to be a premiere gathering place that drives economic impact into the community,” Rippetoe went on to say, “All of the people in the service industry who’ve suffered this past 15 months, have an opportunity to have hope because we’re bringing shows back that help drive the economy and drive their jobs.”

Some notable upcoming events scheduled at the convention center are the Celebration of Life for Father Joe Carroll on August 10th and Comic Con Special Edition from November 26th to the 28th.