No ifs, ands, or buts, SDCC is too big.
It’s not just the issue with the size of the convention center. As with freeways, the larger you build them, the more cars and congestion you get. A larger venue for SDCC will just exacerbate the current issues.
So what can we do to ‘save’ comic con?
You won’t like it.
- Reduce the amount of tickets. Reduce the badges by 1/3. It needs to be fewer than 100k.SDCC has worked VERY hard to allow the most people to attend and enjoy the experience. The convention has security and fire marshals crawling all over the place to ensure the safety of the attendees. As SDCC reorganizes traffic flows and invents creative new line management plans, they have allowed more people in.The goal is to keep the public happy by giving more and more fans a chance to attend. Those attendees are very happy to be one of the golden ticket winners. However, that ‘joy’ is short lived. Those attendees also experience a lot of unneeded frustrations.The convention has morphed. Fans used to be ‘generalists’. They could sample something from Hall H and decide that panel was not want they wanted and wander (not run) over to Ballroom 20 and check out that panel. Or even explore the Expo floor and then head back to Hall H.Because of the crowds, fans have now become ‘specialists’. They target the ONE panel they ‘need’ to attend each day. They will camp out overnight and then camp out all day in the room. They miss seeing the convention floor or the wonderful cosplayers, or autograph sessions. Because of their camping in that room all day, they are preventing others from attending different panels.Because of the overcrowding, a cottage industry has grown of people selling their bathroom passes to others that want to get into a panel Ballroom 20.
- Double the cost of admission. While people will complain and some will not be able to afford it, any reduction in previous attendees will be made up by new attendees.
- No one under 18 should be allowed to attend.SDCC is not ‘R’ rated. For the most part, SDCC is family oriented. I thoroughly understand SDCC wanting the ‘future’ of fandom to attend. We all want a strong fan base to ensure the future of comics and nerddom. But SDCC is the Super Bowl of the comiccons. Young fans are introduced to football in Pop Warner and high school and college. They are not instant fans of football by watching the Super Bowl. SDCC is not something for the casual fan.While SDCC is PG 13, many of the cosplayers are enjoying the ‘open’ venue to expose as much flesh as possible. I have no issues with that. I enjoy that. I do have issues with 5 years old learning more about anatomy at SDCC than high school kids learn in Sex Ed.Removal of children, would also remove baby carriages. Besides a tripping hazard, the strollers are also clogging the aisles and interfering with the flow of foot traffic. Children often escape the strollers and are wandering. Children slow traffic and create a risk of being fallen on.While roller boards aren’t allowed, strollers often are converted into ad hoc dollies to help mom and dad lug the collections they buy all day long. Which create the tripping hazard that the ban on roller boards was trying to prevent.
- No one under 18 should be allowed to purchase limited edition collectables or participate in autograph drawings.I see this at every lottery: An entire family will all pick raffle tickets.One, this slows the line down as the young children need coaxing.Two, when the family of 4 all get winning tickets to the same autograph, that reduces the remaining winning tickets and prevents other fans from even having a chance.
- Create one way aisles within the expo floor.
- Prevent venders from distributing collectable merchandise on the sales floor. Product pickup needs to be done off site or shipped opt the buyer.People trying to rush outside with their large bags of collectors often collide with other fans and create bottleneck in the aisles.Venders trying to restock their wares create traffic jams as they navigate through the crowds.
- Restrict cosplayers from promenading on the Expo floor. Cosplayers are incredible, very fun to look at, and talented. However, they constantly create traffic flow issues as people stop to take photos. Allow cosplayers to roam in the main corridors but not on the Expo floor. Create a ‘Cosplay only’ badge. They can enter the building and attend panels but not access the floor.A few thoughts from watching SDCC evolve and devolve over the years.