Friday marks WonderCon’s first day in Anaheim, its new, temporary home for 2012… a notable migration from the San Francisco Bay Area, where it’s been held since 1987.
The convention’s supposed to return to its old residence in 2013, but if WonderCon’s a hit in the new place, will its owners really move it back and ditch a lucrative location? And is there more going on with this migration than the public’s been told?
Inquiring nerds want to know, and they’ve been wondering for a while. The Hollywood Reporter reported last fall that Comic-Con International, the organization that runs WonderCon, was moving it because the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco, where it had been held for years, would undergo construction during WonderCon’s scheduled March 16 – 18 dates. WonderCon had a record attendance of 49,000 in 2011, according to the Reporter, indicating great growth, so convention owners had to make a decision: either cancel the show for a year and break momentum or move it somewhere else.
By now we know their decision. The new location’s on their website, and they discuss it in a press release there, but official disclosures haven’t eased some folks’ worries.
Conspiracy theories abound, and here’s a big one. An article in The North County Times shed light on speculation that WonderCon’s organizers want to test the new Anaheim location as a trial run before moving San Diego Comic-Con to the same spot. If WonderCon does well there, then Comic-Con International, which runs both cons, will have the proof to support a Comic-Con migration from the San Diego Convention Center to Anaheim.
There’s been talk of Comic-Con’s possible relocation for a while. Its previous lease with the city of San Diego originally expired this year, so for the past few years, media outlets speculated that Comic-Con International might move its biggest convention to a new city starting in 2013. Los Angeles and good ole’ Anaheim put out bids for the con, but Comic-Con International announced that it was keeping the convention in San Diego through 2015, and the news silenced quite a few people.
At least one person thinks that WonderCon’s move this year is bogus. If the Moscone Center won’t work, why not just move it to another building in the same city? Surely San Francisco has more than one place that’s big enough. The North County Times article quoted a commenter named Ryan on Comingsoon.net who wrote, “The Moscone Center isn’t the only venue in SF where they could hold it. There’s more to this move than just Moscone being renovated.”
Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer was quoted in the same story denying those allegations.
But what would he say to this theory? What if Comic-Con International is repositioning WonderCon as an overflow venue for people who can’t get into Comic-Con because the tickets sell out so fast these days? San Diego Comic-Con has grown in attendance rapidly over the years to about 125,000 people, and these days, so many people go online to buy their tickets simultaneously that the tickets are gone within minutes of being released. It’s a nightmare for fans who get squeezed out.
For now, it’s anyone’s guess. These theories could prove true, but they are just theories. There’s no proof that Comic-Con International is up to anything sneaky with these moves.
We can’t tell what’s going to happen in 2013, but here’s some good news for those who want San Diego Comic-Con to stay in San Diego: the city council has approved a $500 million expansion of the convention center, but it would require a tax on hotel room, so hotel managers will vote on the decision in April.
We’ll probably have to wait to find out what Comic-Con International’s plans are, but no matter what happens, WonderCon and Comic-Con will always be going on somewhere, regardless of the city. All you’ve got to do is sit back, pay attention, and keep your eyes peeled for when–and where–your next favorite con is going to be. The location won’t matter as long as you can have fun.