San Diego, California, Balboa Park, Comic-Con, Entertainment, Retail, Museum, Interior Design
The nonprofit plans for a sort of yearlong Comic-Con in Balboa Park
Comic-Con International revealed its museum plans Thursday after a three-year wait with the intention to bring a piece of the pop culture juggernaut to Balboa Park year-round.
San Diego Comic-Con said it will open its museum in summer 2021 and will have two art galleries, a theater, rotating exhibits, outdoor seating, a gift shop with exclusive merchandise, cafe and an extensive education center. It will be the first museum to open at the park in nearly 20 years.
The stakes are high for the museum with organizers, and community leaders, betting it can reinvigorate an underused part of Balboa Park and be a beacon for tourism in the city once the pandemic is over.
â€śWe want to do our part to contribute to San Diego as a thriving city,â€ť said Melissa Peterman, head of development for the museum. â€śWe also want to create something that is sustainable.â€ť
Comic-Con said it made the announcement this week because it is at the halfway point of its fundraising goal of $34 million. The roughly $17 million gathered so far has come from fans that gave as low as $10 to big contributions and sponsorships from AT&T, DC, U.S. Bank, Cox Communications and others.
City of San Diego officials gave Comic-Con the 68,000-square-foot former San Diego Hall of Champions building in March 2017. The sports-themed museum had been in the park since 1961. The lease was signed by John Rogers, the conventionâ€™s long-time president who died in November 2018.
A unique aspect of the museum will be a cafe (with alcoholic beverages) and programming for adults in the evening when most museums in the park are closed. The museumâ€™s hours are not yet decided. The bar of restaurant Panama 66 in the park stays open until 10 p.m. some nights, which may indicate how late Comic-Conâ€™s cafe could operate.
Miro Copic, a marketing lecturer at San Diego State University, said Comic-Con is a unique draw and its museum should bring in plenty of locals and out-of-town visitors. Its success will depend on how well it keeps up with pop culture trends â€” much like the convention itself.
â€śComic-Con is an ongoing, living, breathing organism. It really morphs and changes,â€ť he said.
In the conventionâ€™s more than 50-year history, it has gone from a relatively small group of comic book and science-fiction fans meeting in tiny venues to an international phenomenon that draws the biggest names in Hollywood. While the core product â€” comic books â€” might have diminished in importance, it has raised the profile of its characters.
On Tuesday, when much of the park was shuttered and crowds were thin, the Laskis family of Scottsdale, Ariz., looked with curiosity at the building that will house the Comic-Con Museum.
Adam and Emma Laskis said they visit San Diego every year and were coming back from a visit to the San Diego Air and Space Museum with their sons, ages 3 and 1, as they stopped to look at the Comic-Con sign. They said they were excited to visit the Comic-Con Museum when it opens and their 3-year-old son is a fan of Captain America, star of many Marvel films.
â€śWe want to expose our kids to as much as we can,â€ť Adam Laskis said.
Comic-Con, a nonprofit that also runs Anaheimâ€™s WonderCon, has been slow to release information on what the museum would look like. In October 2019, the executive director of the museum, Adam Smith, left after two years on the job. The organization characterized Smithâ€™s leaving as the end of a â€śphase oneâ€ť of museum planning and it would now enter a â€śphase two.â€ť
Since then, Comic-Conâ€™s board of directors has handled seeing the museum to fruition. One of the people in charge has been Peterman, who leads development at the museum. She has been with the Comic-Con organization for 2 1/2 years after a career working with homeless housing efforts at the San Diego Housing Commission. She has degrees from San Diego State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Peterman said the museum will not be finished when it opens next summer, but will continue to be worked on and completed in phases until 2024. One of the things that will be done by 2021 will be its education center on the second floor, with classes Comic-Con says will be centered on creativity. It said the space can be used for graphic novel clubs, field trips and summer camps.