San Diego Convention Center and the San Diego Bay

San Diego Convention Center to Reopen for Events August 1

(San Diego, CA–July 21, 2021) – The San Diego Convention Center (SDCC) will reopen for events in less than two weeks, following more than 15 months of serving as an emergency shelter for individuals in need. The first event to return to the award-winning waterfront facility is SPIE Optics + Photonics, a meeting that showcases light-based technologies, scheduled for August 1-5, 2021.

“California’s high vaccination rates have paved the way for the safe return of meetings and conventions to San Diego. I join our tourism and hospitality industry in extending a warm welcome to event attendees coming to San Diego this year, along with heartfelt thanks to the San Diego Convention Center staff and community partners for their adaptability during our region’s pandemic response,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.

SDCC is preparing to host 30 events between August and December 2021, including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ (AAOS) 2021 Annual Meeting (Aug. 31-Sept. 3), the American Society of Anesthesiologists® ANESTHESIOLOGY® Annual Meeting (Oct. 8-12) and Comic-Con: Special Edition (Nov. 26-28), among other new and returning events. All events will follow California Department of Public Health guidance. Until October 1, people participating in indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 attendees will need to be fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test result conducted within 72 hours of the event.

“Following a challenging and deeply meaningful year, we’re thrilled to return to our primary purpose as an economic driver for San Diego,” said Rip Rippetoe, SDCC President & CEO. “We’re confident we’ll have one of the safest and cleanest venues in the nation when we reopen. Based on the demand we’re continuing to see for events in the next 5-10 years, we’re equally confident in the long-term outlook for our industry, especially in beautiful San Diego."

The first 2021 event, SPIE Optics + Photonics, will provide opportunities for both in-person and remote participation. SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is looking forward to welcoming its community of engineers, scientists, researchers, students and exhibitors to San Diego.

"Together with the San Diego Convention Center team, we’re committed to providing a healthy and comfortable experience for all of our exhibitors and attendees. After more than a year of virtual meetings and online networking, we know how excited everyone is to see one another and return to San Diego, the city where our Society has been meeting for over 30 years,” said SPIE CEO Kent Rochford.

The second event to take place at SDCC this summer is AKC Meet the Breeds (Aug. 14-15), America’s largest in-person dog breed educational showcase. This public event will offer pet-lovers the opportunity to meet and play with more than 100 different dog breeds.

“San Diego is known for its long-standing, dog-friendly community of beaches, hiking trails, patio dining, and the Padres’ Petco Park. It's a perfect place to launch our first-ever AKC Meet the Breeds National Tour,” said Dennis B. Sprung, President and CEO of AKC. “We are excited to engage with San Diego dog lovers and educate them about our beloved breeds.”

This season of lively activity follows a shutdown of public gatherings that began with COVID-19 State and County health orders in March 2020. More than 150 SDCC events canceled, postponed, or turned virtual. Those lost events would have produced an estimated economic impact of $2.3 billion and an estimated $50 million in tax revenue for the City of San Diego.

Though SDCC was unable to fulfill its primary purpose during that time, the facility served as a homeless shelter for 11 months in support of Operation Shelter to Home and as a federal emergency intake site for unaccompanied children seeking asylum for nearly four months. Last November, it also served as a physically distanced polling location for the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election.

"Together with the San Diego Convention Center team, we’re committed to providing a healthy and comfortable experience for all of our exhibitors and attendees. After more than a year of virtual meetings and online networking, we know how excited everyone is to see one another and return to San Diego, the city where our Society has been meeting for over 30 years,” said SPIE CEO Kent Rochford.

Statements From San Diego Leaders and Partners

Betsy Brennan, President and CEO, Downtown San Diego Partnership:
“Downtown San Diego is thrilled to welcome locals and visitors alike back to events at the San Diego Convention Center. We have watched with great admiration as the facility and Convention Center team have adapted to serve the needs of our community during the pandemic. We know that same welcoming spirit will continue to be on full display at upcoming events as well as within our Downtown neighborhoods for all who are ready to explore.”

Councilmember Raul Campillo, Chair, Economic Development & Intergovernmental Relations Committee, City of San Diego: “The Convention Center is a major economic engine that has served our region for decades. When San Diego was called upon to shelter vulnerable members of our community during the height of the pandemic, the Convention Center leadership, staff, and community met the moment. I am excited to see the Convention Center reopen as a premier gathering place that hosts conventions, trade shows, and community events that generate economic activity in the City of San Diego.”

Julie Coker, President and CEO, San Diego Tourism Authority: “The San Diego Convention Center has always been a community asset, and that fact was never more evident than during the pandemic when it served as a shelter for our unhoused neighbors and then for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum. Now, with its reopening, the Convention Center is ready to benefit the community again by bringing new visitors to our destination, which will boost our local economy, create jobs and deliver more revenue to our region.”

Nathan Fletcher, Chair, San Diego County Board of Supervisors: “Our Convention Center showed the world leadership by demonstrating an unmatched ability to reimagine its facility to help unsheltered individuals and unaccompanied migrant children; I am proud of all that was accomplished under very difficult circumstances. Now it is time for the convention floor to once again host major events and invite visitors from across the globe back to San Diego. Our economy is ready to roar back and activities at the Convention Center will be vital to our economic boom.”

David Glanzer, Chief Communications and Strategy Officer, Comic-Con: “We are very excited to see the reopening of the San Diego Convention Center, and we look forward to taking our place among the many other events as we prepare to launch Comic-Con Special Edition on November 26-28, 2021."

Joe Stuyvesant, President and CEO, Port of San Diego: “I am delighted that the San Diego Convention Center is poised to return to its role as a central driver of the region’s tourism industry. At the same time, I want to congratulate Convention Center President and CEO Clifford ‘Rip’ Rippetoe and his staff for deftly pivoting to respond to the humanitarian needs of homeless individuals and young border refugees for months during the pandemic. Those actions stand as praiseworthy examples of civic engagement in a time of unprecedented crises.

Now, thanks to the widespread distribution of vaccines, the Convention Center is ready to reopen for convention visitors and reclaim its place as one of the most desirable locales for corporate meetings in North America. The Convention Center’s success is linked not only to the region’s economic prosperity, but to the economic vitality of the hotels, restaurants, attractions, and other businesses on the Port of San Diego’s waterfront. The Port of San Diego, and the Port’s tenants, eagerly welcome the Convention Center’s reopening.”

Nora Vargas, Vice Chair, San Diego County Board of Supervisors: “I'm excited that the San Diego Convention Center will be reopening its doors and very grateful for their willingness to step up during very difficult times. From providing shelter to our unhoused neighbors to serving as a safe haven for unaccompanied minors during their asylum journey. The San Diego Convention Center has been a true partner and we could not have been successful in any of these efforts without them. I can't wait to see the Convention Center bustling with activity after more than a year and a half as it will mean a huge boost in our path to a full economic recovery.”

Stephen Whitburn, San Diego City Council President Pro Tem: "San Diegans can be proud of the Convention Center’s role during the pandemic, sheltering hundreds of residents experiencing homelessness and then housing children seeking asylum in our country. I thank CEO Rip Rippetoe, his staff, and the professionals and volunteers who provided these humanitarian services. Today we celebrate as the Convention Center returns to the business of hosting national and international events. Its reopening will speed our economic recovery and again showcase San Diego to the world."

Media Events & Availability 

Press Conference 
Friday, July 30, 9:00 a.m.  
San Diego Convention Center Front Drive, Outside Hall B 
With Vice Chair Nora Vargas (San Diego County Board of Supervisors), Councilmember Stephen Whitburn (District 3, City of San Diego), Rip Rippetoe (San Diego Convention Center), David Glanzer (Comic-Con) and community leaders. RSVP to Maren Dougherty, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

SPIE Walkthrough & Interview Availability 
Tuesday, August 3, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. 
Wednesday, August 4, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 
Thursday, August 5, 9:00 a.m.-Noon 
San Diego Convention Center Sails Pavilion 
Media are invited to tour the SPIE Optics + Photonics exhibition hall. RSVP to Kevin Probasco, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Maren Dougherty, San Diego Convention Center 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 619.782.4390 

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    111 W Harbor Drive
    San Diego, CA 92101
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