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Reporter’s Notebook: New Seats and Strange Bedfellows at the Convention Center

The San Diego Convention Center is getting new chairs.

On its surface, it doesn’t seem to be huge news.

For certain Comic-Con fans, however, that news struck a nerve.

Comic-Con fans sit a lot, particularly when they stake out territory in popular venues for hours (or days) to get a chance to see something they are intensely interested in. The “Game of Thrones” cast, for example.

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Gil Cabrera, a downtown attorney who sits on the San Diego Convention Center Corp. board of directors, recalls posting an item recently on one of his social media accounts, something to the effect of, “Hey, Hall H fans, new chairs are coming.”

Cabrera said he was “blown away” by the response. He did not recall the number of people who picked up on the social media post, but “it felt like a lot of people,” he said.

The center recently invested in new chairs to replace the folding models with bright blue cushions, which the center bought in the seven years between its 1989 opening and 1996.

The board is buying its chairs in lots of 10,000. The first set cost $1.03 million. Another lot of 10,000 will come next year.

During Comic-Con, Hall H can hold up to 6,000 people.

Another large space, Ballroom 20, can hold 3,850 people.

The old bright blue chairs were set up for a luncheon during a recent tour of the convention center.

“Definitely tired,” Cabrera said.

…..

Three very different groups were using the center on a recent Friday.

The blue chairs were set up for a meeting of the American Society of Military Comptrollers, which expected 2,700 military and civilian attendees.

In another hall, big medical equipment companies were showing their wares to doctors for the Society for Vascular Surgery meet.

Those crowds were subdued compared to a third group, in town for the Synchrony Financial Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon. Some very fit people picked up their bib numbers and lingered at a fitness expo, while organizers blasted Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones over the building’s sound system.

“Want a whole lotta love,” sang Robert Plant, but the sound did not travel far enough to reach the military accounting crowd, in town for three days of sessions with the theme of “Catching the Wave: Audit Ready.”

The only thing stranger would be Comic-Con fans mixing with U.S. Navy admirals and U.S. Marine Corps generals at the USNI/AFCEA WEST conference. (That’s U.S. Naval Institute and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.)

Such a convergence will never happen. One convention is in the summer. The other brings Washington, D.C. types to San Diego in the winter.

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