2014 Comic-Con -- Photo courtesy of San Diego Convention Center Corp.

2014 Comic-Con -- Photo courtesy of San Diego Convention Center Corp.

Comic-Con International, the pop-culture mega-event that annually brings 130,000 people to the San Diego Convention Center, will be staying in San Diego through 2018, organizers and city officials announced.

“Fans near and far can rejoice that their favorite superheroes and celebrities will continue to gather under the San Diego sun,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said at a July 2 news conference. “San Diego and Comic-Con are a natural pair and we’re both extremely pleased to continue our four-decade partnership.”

The event has been held in San Diego since its 1970 debut, with this year’s 46th gathering set for July 9-12. Prior to the downtown news conference, it was committed to the local convention center only through 2016.

“We’ve grown up in San Diego and we’re excited to have reached an agreement that will keep us here through 2018,” said Comic-Con Marketing Director David Glanzer.

Exact financial terms were not disclosed. Prior to the announcement, Comic-Con organizers said final talks with local hotels had boiled down to pricing, inventory and other issues tied to blocks of rooms set aside by more than 50 hotels specifically for Comic-Con.

Organizers sought to hold 2017 and 2018 levels at those already in place for the 2016 event.

Convention center officials released revised figures noting that Comic-Con, the center’s largest annual event, is conservatively estimated to generate $135.9 million in regional economic impact, including $80.4 million in direct spending by attendees and $2.8 million in tax revenue.

The news of the extension came as convention center operators continue to seek ways to expand the venue and retain big events such as Comic-Con, which has been courted in recent years by cities such as Anaheim, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Organizers have said for several years that Comic-Con is outgrowing the San Diego Convention Center, with programs increasingly staged at neighboring hotels in addition to the center’s exhibit spaces.

“I think it is no secret that we feel an expanded convention center would be beneficial to the city and would be welcome to Comic-Con fans,” Glanzer said prior to the extension announcement. “The city, local hotels and the convention center have worked very hard to address our space concerns even without an expanded center, so I think we’re proceeding accordingly.”

Drawing Power

Comic-Con provides a major summer boost to the local economy, including big business for bars, restaurants and other venues filled by non-attendees taking in the festivities at places such as the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village.