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Arts & Culture

Comic-Con Delivers $180 Million Economic Punch To San Diego

Katie Schoolov
Cash Spills Out of Comic-Con into San Diego

The San Diego Convention Center is a pop culture smorgasbord this week as Comic-Con holds court. It's about the comics, the movies, the stars, the costumes, the video games and the fans but most of all, it is about the money. The event delivers a $180 million economic punch to the region, according to the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Most of the business is done inside the Convention Center. But it is easy to see the steady flow of people into the downtown area just across the street. And downtown dresses the part. Buildings are transformed into bigger-than-life ads for the movies, comics and games.

"This whole area is completely different during the Comic-Con show, so we're just part of that," said Canela Paine of CBS Interactive.


Major media companies have changed the face of San Diego's Gaslamp region. Stores, buildings, the trolley and even local eateries are transformed. Lou and Mickey's turned their entire bar and grill over to a gaming company.

"Gamespot will be having a live stage show out on the patio area and we've partnered with some sponsors that are bringing some popular gaming titles," said Paine.

Hotels are cashing in, as are pedicab drivers and restaurants. It is a week of nonstop business for establishments near the Convention Center.

"We open at 6 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. and we have a line at the door from all points of the day," said Toscana Café manager Nathan Wing. "It's a lot of fun though. The crowd they bring is a really nice crowd with a great atmosphere. It's great to be in the Gaslamp Quarter."

Comic-Con will generate $75 million in direct spending this week, plus more than $2.6 million in tax revenue. And it is worth even more than that.


"So you have a marque event. And obviously when you have a lot of media from outside of San Diego, they're going to showcase, number one the tourist value of San Diego as a whole," said Miro Copic, San Diego State University marketing professor. "But I think more importantly what it shows is if San Diego does this effectively as a city and Convention and Visitor's Bureau, it really showcases San Diego from a business perspective."

Comic-Con runs through Sunday.

Corrected: December 2, 2023 at 1:08 PM PST
Video by Katie Euphrat