It’s long been a mystery to comic fans why the city of San Diego seems so uncomfortable with Comic-Con International. After all, with upwards of 100,000 people coming in for 4 days, renting hotel rooms, buying meals and drinks, and so on, we must be giving the city an annual boost of extra income, right?
Okay, there’s the usual love-hate relationship between any tourist destination and its clientele. Plus some people get freaked out by anyone in a costume. And sure, some attendees don’t understand basic concepts of hygiene, or bear an uncanny resemblance to the Comic Book Guy. But most of us are normal people (and shower every day). And besides, we’re bringing in all this business, right?
Well, maybe not. The New York Times writes, in an article about Hollywood’s uneasy relationship with the con, that the con is “decidedly low-rent.”
No. 33 on the official tip sheet* lists the grocery chain Ralph’s Market as an alternative to dining out. The Bio International Convention in San Diego, a gathering of the biotechnology industry, with one-sixth as many attendees, produces about double Comic-Con’s $41.5 million in economic impact on the city.
Yes, that’s right. A biotech conference brings the city 12 times as much per attendee as Comic-Con. The city puts up with 6 times the strain on their roads, public transportation, and other infrastructure, for only half the reward?
No wonder they don’t like us.
So here’s a mission for those of you going to San Diego this year: Head down to the reservations pavilion in the convention center lobby at least once, and make a reservation at a nearby restaurant. The Gaslamp District is right across the street from the convention center, so there’s plenty of good food to choose from. Be clean. Be polite. Don’t order the cheapest thing on the menu with a glass of water. Tip appropriately. Overall: make a good impression.
*Not that I can find this official tip sheet anywhere. Plenty of unofficial tip sheets — heck, we wrote our own a few years ago — but no sign of an official one.