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The headline in a New York Times story this morning (July 28) is "Large Crowds Spend Little at Comic-Con." The story — written by two reporters with help from a third — quotes a panelist saying that the big event is "driven by passion — it isn't really driven by money."

"Nobody is buying much," says the Times, saying that per capita spending is about one-third of the per capita spending by those at the American Association for Cancer Research gathering in April and "lower than per-person spending at the next three largest conventions in San Diego." Says the Times, "At Comic-Con, dining out is apt to mean eating a sandwich while squatting on a city street."

But, as the saying goes, "Which newspaper d'ya read?"

The Union-Tribune this morning says that Comic-Con visitors "loaded up on purchases of exclusive collectibles." On the editorial page, cartoonist Steve Breen draws a massive individual next to a wee person labeled "San Diego." The massive thing is labeled "Comic-Con Revenue" and the San Diegan is saying, "The Incredible Hulk."

San Diego plans to expand its convention center, despite a huge glut of space nationally. It is no secret that the major objective for the expansion is to accommodate Comic-Con in future years. San Diegans need to know if this annual event generates enough spending to justify the expansion. However, the Convention Center's statistics can't be trusted.

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KLoEditor July 28, 2014 @ 1:15 p.m.

I'd vote to expand it. For one thing, it will keep the stadium out of there, a much much worse thing to happen. For another, when you are talking about empty venues, you are comparing apples to oranges. San Diego is losing business to the megavenues that it could easily draw here if it were bigger. And third, Comic-Con. Because Comic-Con.

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 3:36 p.m.

KLoEditor: So San Diego builds an expansion on the convention center to accommodate Comic-Con. Then Comic-Con departs. Clearly, there aren't enough conventions for the current space. The center has to cook the books to make itself appear busy. How empty would the center be without Comic-Con coming once a year? Best, Don Bauder

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KLoEditor July 28, 2014 @ 4:27 p.m.

Nothing in life is guaranteed. But I don't think there's any incentive for them to leave San Diego. The people who run it are longtime locals, they couldn't do what they do here anywhere else, and they don't want to. I don't see them leaving, I think they are here to stay.

Comic-Con is easily one of the most prestigious conventions in the world, I know every forum I'm on talks about it, everybody wants to attend, the only reason more people don't come is they can't get tickets. So maybe a bigger venue would accommodate more people as well.

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 11:09 p.m.

KloEditor: "Everybody" wants to go to Comic-Con? Not me. You say the Comic-Con management consists of San Diego natives loyal to their home city. Maybe -- but wait until some other place offers them big bucks. I will bet on greed over hometown loyalty any time.

This is not to say I think Comic-Con will depart. It may or may not. But I think it's goofy to spend more than half a billion dollars to expand a convention center when the market is so glutted that centers are slashing prices 100% or more. (SD is cutting Comic-Con prices by 50%). Best, Don Bauder

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Dave Rice July 29, 2014 @ 12:18 a.m.

A bigger venue may equal more ticket sales, which may equal less incentive to discount the rent.

But the more LA and Hollywood tighten their grip on the 'Con, the more likely they are to want to someday bring the party home...Anaheim expansion, anyone?

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Don Bauder July 29, 2014 @ 7:53 a.m.

Dave Rice: Even if a bigger center would boost ticket sales at Comic-Con, is spending more than half a billion bucks to build into a national glut worth it? Would it pay off in other kinds of conventions? Doubtful. Other centers are literally giving space away. They will be tough competition.

Unfortunately, here is what I foresee: San Diego will go ahead with the expansion and the hotel. Because of the glut, the place will not attract that many more -- if any more -- conventions. But because of the center's penchant for twisting and inventing statistics, San Diegans won't be told what a waste it is -- except by the Reader. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark Aug. 1, 2014 @ 4:40 p.m.

And today comes the response from a panel of judges saying the tax to expand the convention center is illegal, per the Manchester U-T.

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monaghan July 28, 2014 @ 1:17 p.m.

For proof of Times reporters' take on ComiCon spending, take a look at Wonder Woman. When she was married to a rich cancer researcher, she shopped a lot, but when she started doing her own thing keeping the public safe and sound, she just hasn't felt the same compulsion.

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 3:39 p.m.

monaghan: If you shop 'til you drop, you don't have the energy to save humanity. Ask Clark Kent, alias Superman. He was always wearing the same suit until he ducked into a phone booth to switch into his cape and tight-fitting outfit. And his Superman outfit never changed, either. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel July 28, 2014 @ 4:57 p.m.

Clark Kent always wore the same suit because he was a reporter for a big city newspaper and couldn't afford to buy another one. You, of all people Don BAuder, should be able to relate.

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 11:12 p.m.

danfogel: Because I was on TV and gave speeches so much I had to have several suits. But I bought 'em at cut-rate stores. Best, Don Bauder

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rehftmann July 28, 2014 @ 2:14 p.m.

Papa Doug insists on dropping his load on my driveway Sunday mornings. We can't stop it, don't pay for it, and don't want it. Even thinking about it destroys my peace of a Sunday morning. However, my wife can't help opening it for the NYTimes crosswords, an apt name, since she read me an ad for ComicCon with cartoon that said something like "even SuperWoman can't find a parking place at ComicCon." Admitting that I didn't look at the ad, I can just report that I lost it over the subliminal appeal for expanded development in what used to be "our" waterfront, combined with a pitch for his convention-centric hotel. If there really was a SuperPerson, I suspect he/she/it would be overwhelmed confronting the legions of devious masterminds in our Gotham by the Big Bay. But real super heroes only exist in comics. Were it so with their evil counterparts…

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 3:42 p.m.

rehftmann: How fortunate you are. You get the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle for free. We drive ten miles into town to get the Sunday Times, pay full price, and drive ten miles back. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill July 29, 2014 @ 8:25 a.m.

I think it would be great if Comic-Con stays here - but realistically the bay-front and gaslamp hotels are the primary beneficiaries so I think they should pay the majority of expansion costs. I don't think any residents or businesses outside of downtown should have to pay for an expansion however.

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Don Bauder July 29, 2014 @ 9:15 a.m.

ImJustABill: San Diego needs to know the percentage of Comic-Con folks who are local and thus spend little. That is critical. San Diego needs a portrait of the typical Comic-Con attendee -- age, income, net worth, etc. The answer may be that most are young and lacking means.

Trouble is, I wouldn't believe anything that the convention center and its consultants publish. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill July 29, 2014 @ 10:45 p.m.

I think a common problem with all these private-public "partnerships" is that those representing the public side tend to rely too much on the optimistic numbers from the private side. Well, and of course the other side of that problem is that those from the private side tend to wildly exagerate.

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Don Bauder July 30, 2014 @ 7:02 a.m.

ImJustABill: It's a con game. A city wants cover to build something that it knows the public could realize will be a white elephant. So they hire a consulting firm to claim that the convention center will be a winner and bring in big bucks. The consulting firm is paid very well for telling the city leaders exactly what they want to hear -- horse manure. The consulting firm is overpaid with taxpayer money. So the taxpayers get screwed with their own money. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill July 29, 2014 @ 8:39 a.m.

It's a bit of a game of chicken for Comic-Con. They know they will have more space and possibly better rates if they move to Anaheim, LA, or even Vegas. But they also know Comic-Con won't be the same if it moves so they'll be taking a big risk. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

Look at what happened when Street-Scene moved from the gaslamp.

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Don Bauder July 29, 2014 @ 9:17 a.m.

ImJustABill: Again, much depends on how many of the Comic-Con attendees live in the San Diego metro area. Comic-Con management should have a good idea of that figure. Best, Don Bauder

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