MHC: 2007 San Diego Con Report #2

by Jeff

Howdy!

I’m a bit weary today, as I was here at the convention center until 11 PM last evening. The “Preview Night” hours were only from 6 PM – 9 PM, but Lynne and I had to stay after hours in order to send a young man to jail. We caught him shoplifting (he was working a “swarm” along with three of his friends…), and our policy is to always prosecute thieves. I actually feel really bad about calling the police about a $30 attempted theft, as I genuinely have no desire to cause anyone else harm. But the reality at a huge show like this is that if you don’t work aggressively to stymie thieves, they will strip your booth in a matter of hours.

What really shocked me last night was to discover that there were no San Diego police officers in the entire huge convention building. You would think that at a public event with 50,000+ attendees that there would be a significant police presence, but because the San Diego Convention Center is built on the bay, it actually falls under the dominion of the Harbor Police. They somehow never got the memo that the biggest convention of the year was happening this weekend, so we had to wait for over an hour until a uniformed officer arrived to take our report. We did receive a great deal of help from the convention security service, but since they are all retired police officers, not one of them could make an actual arrest. Sad to say, if a real crime were ever to be committed during the convention, I think that it would be complete chaos…

Aside from catching shoplifters (we caught another already this morning…), we’re been making sales as quickly as possible. Overall revenue last evening was quite robust for only 3 hours, but I’m hoping that it picks up even further today. With a break even point well above the six figure mark, I need to sell a LOT of books each day to make this show a financial success. The jury is still out, but I am cautiously optimistic that we’ll do OK in the end.

In other news, I promised yesterday that I would mention an option for the future of San Diego con. This is a radical proposal, but I started pushing last year for a second convention, to be held the weekend after the San Diego show, somewhere in the Los Angeles area. My logic is simple: those of us who come out to set up in San Diego have already accrued most of our shipping and logistic expenses. If we could spread those costs over two shows, rather than just one, it would be far more cost efficient. We could also return to having a small vacation in between the two shows, which would make things seem much more like the family-oriented San Diego conventions of the 1980’s.

A second show up north would take a little bit of the pressure off of the municipal infrastructure of the City of San Diego. As it stands right now, the overall attendance at the show has grown to such a point that we use up all of the hotels, completely clog the roads, and even overburden the light rail and Amtrak. In the meantime, so many people come to the show from elsewhere (especially the LA basin…) that local San Diego people who want to come to the convention can no longer get tickets, unless they buy well in advance. There were still a few one-day tickets available at the door for today (Thursday), but Friday-Sunday are now reportedly completely sold out. In my opinion, once we’re telling the people that live here that they have to jump through hoops in order to attend a great show in their own town, we’ve got a problem that cries out for resolution. Especially considering that the convention center relies, at least to some extent, on local tax funding…

The big difficulty with my idea is that large convention facilities book years in advance. For the San Diego committee to set up a second show would require a huge commitment of both financial and human resources. That having been said, the New York show is looming as a possible contender for San Diego’s crown as the premiere USA comics event. With this building now being utilized at 100% of capacity, the San Diego committee has no choice but to explore options about how to keep their crown. I think that can be easily accomplished via a West Coast nexus of combined conventions, with San Diego remaining focused on comics, and the LA show catering more to media/film/television exhibits. My vision would be that dealers and/or publishers could choose to exhibit at one, or both, depending on their needs. But by increasing our options by utilizing one of the numerous LA convention facilities (Anaheim, LA, Long Beach, etc.) we expand this show to monumental proportions. Just consider how many stars would appear at a San Diego sponsored event being held in the LA area. It could be incredible! But it will (obviously…) take hard work and great vision to bring my idea to fruition. Is the San Diego committee up to the task? Stay tuned…

My final item for today is a reminder to all of you who are not at this year’s convention that we’re still trying to keep our revenues up at home via the 40% Off SANDIEGO07 codeword. With sales still a bit tenuous at the convention, any orders we might receive at home would be really appreciated…

Happy collecting!

Chuck Rozanski,
President – Mile High Comics, Inc.

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