SAN DIEGO — For the first time in its 51-year history, San Diego Comic-Con will be held virtually this week due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At 9 a.m. PDT Wednesday, Comic-Con.org will transform into Comic-Con@Home, and fans will be able to tune in from home for free.
“Now we’re getting a taste of Comic-Con to the world and anybody who wants to attend will be able to attend,” said David Glanzer, a Comic-Con spokesman.
The cancelation is a huge loss for the city’s economy. Councilmember Chris Ward, whose district includes downtown, said about 120,000 tickets are sold every year, and a vast majority of those are purchased by people from out of town.
“The economic hit is going to be devastating like so many other areas of city funding and the indirect funding that we have to our neighborhood businesses,” Ward said. “We know that it’s going to be in the tens of millions if not more than $100 million of economic impact to San Diego.
“Obviously we get huge benefit from all the hotel room nights that are booked through the comic period and the sales tax and all the other incidentals,” Ward continued. “COVID continues to really hurt our local economy for all the businesses and the city as well.”
Jennifer, a Comic-Con volunteer, stopped by a makeshift memorial set up by fans near the Convention Center. She said she spent her Tuesday afternoon visiting restaurants that typically score big during the convention.
“I figured I’ll do my small part by just coming down here, eat at a couple of places, see how they’re doing and hopefully that will get them to stay open longer until the next time we can come back,” Jennifer said.
Fans who had bought badges before the event was canceled were able to either get a refund or transfer them to use next year. But that will depend whether there’s enough money.
“We do have enough money to operate and move forward but next year I don’t assume we’ll be selling badges or space so it’s going to be tight,” Glanzer said. “We have our work cut out for us.”
The virtual event will run through Sunday. Fans can watch all of the panels and events on Comic-Con’s YouTube channel or its website.