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
Address 111 West Harbor Drive
Location San Diego, California
Coordinates 32°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
Built March 1987 - November 1989
Opened November 1989
Construction cost
$164 million
($312 million in 2015 dollars[1])
Enclosed space
 • Total space 2,600,000 sq ft (240,000 m2)
 • Exhibit hall floor 615,700 sq ft (57,200 m2)
 • Breakout/meeting 123,400 sq ft (11,460 m2)
 • Ballroom 80,700 sq ft (7,500 m2)
Parking 1950 spaces[2]
Public transit access Convention 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.

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.[3] It was designed by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson. Capacity for the facility is 125,000.[4]

The center's most distinguishing feature is the Sails Pavilion, a 90,000 sq ft (8,400 m2) exhibit and special event area. 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. The Pavilion was originally built as an open-air facility under the roof. However, the center found it hard to convince potential users to book an open-air facility, so the Pavilion area was enclosed in glass, greatly expanding the usable area of the center.[5]

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


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. An expansion which doubled the gross square footage of the facility was completed in September 2001. In September 2008 the center took steps to acquire adjacent property for an additional expansion.[6]

Notable events hosted at the convention center include the annual Comic-Con International convention, the Society for Neuroscience and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International Convention. 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 1997, 2003 and 2007. It hosted the 1996 Republican National Convention, which nominated Bob Dole and Jack Kemp for President and Vice President of the United States, respectively. It was also the venue for the 2007 California Democratic Party Convention. Famous guests have included Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Selena, Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., Sandra Bullock, and Hugh Jackman.

San Diego Convention Center from a helicopter, 2011

The new Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, opened in the Spring of 2011, which links the Convention Center with the neighborhoods on the other side of Harbor Drive.

Proposed expansion[edit]

As of November 2012, there is a $520 million proposed expansion to the San Diego Convention Center.[7][8] The proposed expansion would increase the available space within the convention center by 33 percent and has a target completion date of early 2016.[9]

In March 2013, judicial approval was received for the funding method for the expansion;[10] the funding will come from a special taxing district consisting of hotels in San Diego. The expansion was approved by the California Coastal Commission in October 2013.[11]

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.[12]

The other option would be to allow private investors to fund the expansion of the facility, thus allowing for residual income for those investors. This would help boost the local economy as well. This same idea would be used for the concept plan for the proposed Phase 4 Expansion. Phase 4 would add a new contiguous Stadium expansion for the Convention Center after or while Phase 3 is being built. The facility would be used during major events and would practically pay for itself due to increased use of the Convention Center. The new Stadium would also allow for San Diego to host the Superbowl again and it would put the city of San Diego in the running for the 2028 or 2032 Summer Olympics.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  2. ^ "San Diego Convention Center - Parking". San Diego Convention Center Corporation. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  3. ^ "San Diego Convention Center - History". San Diego Convention Center Corporation. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  4. ^ Reid, Calvin (July 27, 2009). "Soldout in San Diego: Another Booming Comic-Con". Publishers Weekly (Reed Elsevier Inc.). Retrieved 2009-07-27. [dead link]
  5. ^[dead link]
  6. ^ Steele, Jeanette (September 23, 2008). "New wing would be along existing building". U-T San Diego (The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC). Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  7. ^ Dillon, Liam (8 November 2012). "Convention Center Expansion Clears Major Hurdle". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  8. ^ "San Diego Convention Center Phase III Expansion Project". Unified Port of San Diego. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  9. ^ "San Diego Convention Center Expansion". San Diego Convention Center Corporation. 2010. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  10. ^ Orr, Katie (March 11, 2013). "Judge Tentatively Approves Funding Plan For San Diego Convention Center Expansion". KPBS (TV). Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  11. ^ Young, Joe (October 11, 2013). "Judge Signs Off On San Diego Convention Center Financing Plan". KNSD NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved 2013-03-11. 
  12. ^ Weisberg, Lori (August 1, 2014). "Ruling threatens convention center expansion". U-T San Diego (The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC). Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  13. ^ Mosher, Spencer (30 June 2014). "Phase 4 Convention Center Expansion & Stadium". Retrieved 2014-06-30. 

External links[edit]