San Diego Convention Center

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San Diego Convention Center
San Diego Convention Center.jpg
View of the center from the San Diego Bay
Address111 West Harbor Drive
LocationSan Diego, California
Coordinates32°42′23″N 117°09′40″W / 32.7063°N 117.1612°W / 32.7063; -117.1612Coordinates: 32°42′23″N 117°09′40″W / 32.7063°N 117.1612°W / 32.7063; -117.1612
BuiltMarch 1987 - November 1989
OpenedNovember 1989
ExpandedSeptember 2001
Construction cost
$164 million
($338 million in 2019 dollars[1])
Enclosed space
 • Total space2,600,000 sq ft (240,000 m2)
 • Exhibit hall floor615,700 sq ft (57,200 m2)
 • Breakout/meeting123,400 sq ft (11,460 m2)
 • Ballroom80,700 sq ft (7,500 m2)
Parking1950 spaces[2]
Public transit accessConvention Center (San Diego Trolley station)

The San Diego Convention Center is the primary convention center in San Diego, California. It is located in the Marina district of downtown San Diego near the Gaslamp Quarter, at 111 West Harbor Drive. The center is managed by the San Diego Convention Center Corporation, a non-profit public benefit corporation created by the City of San Diego.


San Diego approved a measure to fund construction of a new convention center in 1983 on land owned by the Port of San Diego. Construction of the original building began in March 1987 and was completed in November 1989.[3] An expansion which doubled the gross square footage of the facility was completed in September 2001.[4] In September 2008 the center took steps to acquire adjacent property for an additional expansion.[5]

Notable events hosted at the convention center include the annual Comic-Con International convention and the Society for Neuroscience.[6] Television game show Wheel of Fortune did live tapings of shows at the Convention Center featuring contestants from the San Diego area that aired nationally in May 1997, 2003, and 2007.[7] It hosted the 1996 Republican National Convention, which nominated Bob Dole and Jack Kemp for President and Vice President of the United States, respectively.[8] It was also the venue for the 2007 California Democratic Party Convention.[9]

In 2008, the Hilton San Diego Bayfront opened south of the convention center;[10] this was followed by the Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge which opened in the Spring of 2011, which links the Convention Center with the neighborhoods on the other side of Harbor Drive.[11] In 2014, the Convention Center hosted the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International Convention, bringing in $56 million to the economy of San Diego.[12] In 2016, the second annual convention for the video game streaming plaform Twitch, TwitchCon was hosted at the Convention center,[13] in 2019, TwitchCon was hosted once more at the Convention Center,[14] later revealing at the event that it would yet again be hosted at the convention center in September 2020.[15]

Notable events[edit]


The convention center offers 615,700 sq ft (57,200 m2) of exhibit space. As of 2009 it was the 24th largest convention facility in North America.[16] It was designed by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson. Capacity for the facility is 125,000.[17]

The center's most distinguishing feature is the Sails Pavilion, a 90,000 sq ft (8,400 m2) exhibit and special event area.[18] The Sails Pavilion's roof consists of distinctive Teflon-coated fiberglass "sails" intended to reflect San Diego's maritime history, as well as to advertise the center's proximity to the San Diego shore.[19] The Pavilion was originally built as an open-air facility under the roof.[20] However, the center found it hard to convince potential users to book an open-air facility, so in 2000 the Pavilion area was enclosed in glass, greatly expanding the usable area of the center.[21] Beginning in December 2016, the Sails Pavilion began a renovation period.[22] Renovations to the Sails Pavilion were completed in late February 2018, with a capability addition of a programmable LED lighting system.[23]

Another unusual feature of the convention center is its inclined elevator,[24] which ascends alongside the large exterior staircase.[25]

Proposed expansion[edit]

Beginning in 2008, the Convention Center began to pay the lease owners of the neighboring Fifth Avenue Landing property in a deal which would have bought out the lease.[26] By November 2012, there was a $520 million proposal to expand the Convention Center.[27][28] The proposed expansion would have increased the available space within the convention center by 33 percent and had a target completion date of early 2016.[29] In March 2013, judicial approval was received for the funding method for the expansion;[30] the funding would come from a special taxing district consisting of hotels in San Diego. The expansion was approved by the California Coastal Commission in October 2013.[31]

However, on August 1, 2014, a California appeals court ruled the hotel tax unconstitutional, jeopardizing the financing scheme for the convention center expansion, forcing the city to either appeal the decision, seek ballot approval for the tax in accordance with the court's ruling, or come up with an entirely new financing scheme.[32] Attorney Cory Briggs was the filing attorney for the successful lawsuit; in 2015, Briggs had another lawsuit filed regarding the bay front nature of the proposed expansion.[33] The decision was not appealed by the San Diego City Council.[34] The effort to expand the convention center up to August 2014 expended $10 million.[35] Due to the lawsuit, other cities have contacted Comic-Con International regarding the possibility of relocating away from San Diego.[36] In May 2015, the Convention Center stopped paying the lease owners of the Fifth Avenue Landing, having spent $4 million up to that point, losing their rights to the property.[26] In June 2015, the Coastal Commission again approved the convention center expansion plan.[37] In January 2017, Briggs's lawsuit regarding the bayfront nature of the proposed expansion was thrown out.[38]

By 2017, plans to expand the convention center began again.[39] However, the proposed expansion is opposed by a hotel proposal on the Fifth Avenue Landing property which was released when the previous expansion proposal ended.[40] In 2018, a ballot initiative was launched seeking to raise funds and to gain approval for the convention center re-proposed expansion, as well as to fund services for homeless individuals;[41] the ballot initiative will be voted on in 2020.[42]

In November 2018, the City of San Diego paid the lease owners of the Fifth Avenue Landing, to settle a lawsuit out of court regarding development rights.[43] While the lawsuit was occurring, the Port of San Diego and the City of San Diego were in negotiations with the Fifth Avenue Landing to enter into a new lease to allow for Convention Center expansion on the neighboring property, which would involve an initial $5 million payment, and a total $32 million buyout if the ballot initiative passes.[44] In January 2019, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer stated that a deal for the Fifth Avenue Landing was still in negotiation, and the lease owners had the right to build a hotel on their leased land, which has been envisioned as where the Convention Center would expand.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  2. ^ "San Diego Convention Center - Parking". San Diego Convention Center Corporation. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  3. ^ Peter Hendee Brown (2009). America's Waterfront Revival: Port Authorities and Urban Redevelopment. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-0-8122-4122-8.
  4. ^ Hirsh, Lou (December 30, 2014). "Convention Center Forecasts $1 Billion Impact from 2015 Events". San Diego Business Journal. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
    Wallace, Carol (September 2007). "San Diego Convention Center Corporation". San Diego Magazine. CurtCo/SDM LLC. 59 (11). Retrieved February 21, 2015.
    "Construction Completed On Expansion Of San Diego Convention Center". The Daily Transcript. San Diego. September 13, 2001. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  5. ^ Steele, Jeanette (September 23, 2008). "New wing would be along existing building". U-T San Diego. The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  6. ^ "A Year of Exceptional Performance: FY11 Annual Report" (PDF). San Diego Convention Center Corporation. 2011.
  7. ^ Laurie Smith (April 9, 2007). "San Diego takes a spin at Wheel of Fortune". Retrieved February 21, 2015.
    "Celebrating 20 Years of Success: FY09 Annual Report" (PDF). San Diego Convention Center Corporation. 2009. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  8. ^ Berke, Richard L. (August 15, 1996). "Dole Hailed as an Honorable, 'Quiet Hero' as Republicans Give Him Their Nomination". New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
    "This Month in San Diego History > August 1996". San Diego Magazine. CurtCo/SDM LLC. August 2006. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  9. ^ Marelius, John (April 27, 2007). "S.D. convention's gravitas has grown". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
    Elliott, Debbie; Jaffe, Ina (July 29, 2007). "Democratic Candidates Press Flesh in California". NPR. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  10. ^ Lechowitzky, Irene (July 12, 2009). "At Hilton San Diego Bayfront, the view rules". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  11. ^ Hall, Matthew T. (March 18, 2011). "Harbor Drive footbridge finally opens". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  12. ^ Stone, Ken (July 7, 2014). "Biotech Convention Gave San Diego $56M Shot in the Arm". Times of San Diego. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  13. ^ Sarkar, Samit (February 18, 2016). "TwitchCon 2016 announced, coming to San Diego this September". Polygon. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  14. ^ Vincent, Brittany (February 20, 2019). "TwitchCon 2019 Returns To San Diego Convention Center With Fifth Annual Event". Variety. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  15. ^ Hawkins, Josh (September 27, 2019). "Twitch announces TwitchCon 2020 dates and locations". Shacknews. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  16. ^ "San Diego Convention Center - History". San Diego Convention Center Corporation. Archived from the original on January 1, 2006. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  17. ^ Reid, Calvin (July 27, 2009). "Soldout in San Diego: Another Booming Comic-Con". Publishers Weekly. Reed Elsevier Inc. Archived from the original on August 30, 2009. Retrieved July 27, 2009.
  18. ^ Convene: The Journal of the Professional Convention Management Association. The Association. January 2009. p. 78.
  19. ^ Marael Johnson; Joe Yogerst (2006). San Diego. National Geographic Society. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-7922-6202-2.
  20. ^ "Contractor, Designer Get Award For Convention Center Sails Pavilion Enhancement". The Daily Transcript. San Diego. November 9, 2001. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  21. ^ Dilulio, Renee (January 10, 2000). "San Diego Sails Pavilion Opens". Tradeshow Week. Archived from the original on February 22, 2015. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  22. ^ Showley, Roger (December 20, 2018). "Repairs begin on Convention Center pavilion". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  23. ^ Weisberg, Lori (February 23, 2018). "Convention Center rooftop now has a nighttime light show". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
    de Garate, Tony (February 26, 2018). "Ooh, ahh, we need more convention center space". San Diego Reader. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  24. ^ "Th25d" (PDF). California Coastal Commission. October 8, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  25. ^ Alexander Goya; Lynn Goya (August 16, 2011). Best Hikes Near San Diego. FalconGuides. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-4930-0590-1.
  26. ^ a b McGlone, Ashly (June 9, 2015). "How a Company Made Millions Doing Nothing on Port Land". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  27. ^ Dillon, Liam (November 8, 2012). "Convention Center Expansion Clears Major Hurdle". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  28. ^ "San Diego Convention Center Phase III Expansion Project". Unified Port of San Diego. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  29. ^ "San Diego Convention Center Expansion". San Diego Convention Center Corporation. 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  30. ^ Orr, Katie (March 11, 2013). "Judge Tentatively Approves Funding Plan For San Diego Convention Center Expansion". KPBS (TV). Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  31. ^ Young, Joe (October 11, 2013). "Judge Signs Off On San Diego Convention Center Financing Plan". KNSD NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  32. ^ Weisberg, Lori (August 1, 2014). "Ruling threatens convention center expansion". U-T San Diego. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  33. ^ Mento, Tarryn (January 9, 2015). "Faulconer's San Diego Convention Center Decision Expected Next Week". KPBS. San Diego. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  34. ^ Nguyen, Alexander (August 26, 2014). "Back to Square One on Paying for Bigger Convention Center". Times of San Diego. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  35. ^ Lewis, Scott (August 26, 2014). "Six Years and $10 Million Gone, the Convention Center Expansion Is Dead". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  36. ^ Martin, Higo; Perry, Tony (January 21, 2015). "Will Comic-Con leave San Diego? Other cities are making pitches". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  37. ^ Moran, Lyle (June 10, 2015). "Coastal panel approves SD Convention Center expansion". The Daily Transcript. San Diego, California. Retrieved June 27, 2015.
  38. ^ Weisberg, Lori (January 25, 2017). "Convention center expansion clears legal hurdle". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  39. ^ Weisberg, Lori (January 25, 2017). "Convention center expansion clears legal hurdle". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
    Weisberg, Lori (March 22, 2017). "Mayor pushing public vote this November on convention center expansion". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
    Morlan, Kinsee (May 11, 2017). "Plan to Expand the Convention Center". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  40. ^ Weisberg, Lori (December 29, 2017). "Hotel project threatening convention expansion reaches milestone". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  41. ^ "Signature campaign begins for convention center expansion initiative". KSWB. San Diego. City News Service. February 5, 2018. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
    Hoffman, Matt (January 8, 2018). "Citizens Initiative Announced To Expand San Diego Convention Center". KPBS. San Diego. City News Service. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  42. ^ Weisberg, Lori (February 17, 2019). "Hotel tax hike to expand San Diego Convention Center won't be decided this year, mayor says". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  43. ^ Hargrove, Dorian; Jones, Tom (December 31, 2018). "City Pays $5.3 Million To Settle Convention Center Lawsuit". KNSD. San Diego. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  44. ^ Lewis, Scott (May 24, 2018). "City and Port Near $32 Million Deal to Buy Out Partnership on Key Convention Center Land". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
    Hoffman, Matt (October 31, 2018). "Down Payment To Acquire Land For Convention Center Expansion Could Be Authorized Soon". KPBS. San Diego. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  45. ^ Lewis, Scott; Halverstadt, Lisa (January 19, 2019). "Politics Report: GOP Drama Settles, Peters Decision Shakes Up Mayors Race". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved February 20, 2019.

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