Contact Us About the San Diego Convention Center Panorama Archives Panorama

Putting on Comic-Con

San Diego’s world class facility hosts a world class event
What does it take to make sure 125,000+ attendees, 773 exhibitors, thousands of media members from around the world and dozens of Hollywood celebrities enjoy their time at Comic-Con?

"It takes A LOT," jokes Tim Pontrelli, senior event manager at the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC) who has overseen Comic-Con’s show for 23 years. "It's like having a small city move into your neighborhood for a long weekend.

"Putting on Comic-Con takes a lot of planning for the entire downtown area. And it takes teamwork and cooperation from all of our partners to make this event successful."

"Communication is key when staging an event of this size," says David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations at Comic-Con. "Being able to receive quick and informative solutions to potential problem issues makes for a very smooth running event."

Internal service partners like Centerplate, SmartCity and AV Concepts keep Comic-Con attendees, special guests and planners fed, wired and televised. Destination partners like the City of San Diego, the police and fire departments as well as local hotels, restaurants and retailers help make the event flow as smoothly as possible.

For Centerplate, SDCC's food and beverage partner, it takes pallets upon pallets of food and beverages and several food handlers on bikes riding along the back of the house to keep supplies moving to the kitchens and concession areas. There are two 45-foot trucks at the loading docks acting as walk-in refrigerators.

"Last year we served more than 17,000 pizzas, 28,000 hot dogs, 41,000 sodas, and 11,000 orders of fries at Comic-Con," said Executive Chef Jeff Leidy. "It's a huge undertaking. We have 40 cooks and 117 concession workers staffing 12 concession areas throughout the building, including Tides Restaurant and three on-site Starbucks."

Actor Will Ferrell

For Smart City, SDCC’s telecommunications provider, it takes enough fiber and coaxial cable to wrap around our entire 2.6 million square foot building – twice. "We installed 2,000 feet of fiber and 10,000 feet (a little over 2 miles) of coaxial cable for G4, one of Comic-Con's major exhibitors last year," said Julia Slocombe, director of technology services for Smart City. “Additionally, we provided 7,900 feet of Category 5 cable for the show, 309 IP addresses, 73 access points to support the wireless network, 123 telephones, and 61MBs of bandwidth for exhibitors and show management personnel."

During Comic-Con, AV Concepts shares the knowledge and expertise they have of our building to vendors, as well as supplies rigging services and internal audio/video feeds between sessions.

Comic-Con International began in 1970 when a handful of comic book enthusiasts met in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. It has been successfully held at the San Diego Convention Center since 1991. Since then, it has grown into the largest convention held in the building each year taking up our entire facility. Tickets for Comic-Con 2010 sold out in just four months.

Currently, the SDCC and its travel, business and hotel partners are in negotiations to keep the iconic event in its hometown of San Diego.