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The San Diego Convention Center Corp. board today voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the rights to lease 16-acres of land that would be the site of a future expansion of the center.

The vote allows for a payment of $1 million to Fifth Avenue Landing LLC, the current lease holders of the land, which gives the convention center a year to study the feasibility of an expansion that could cost more than $500 million.

If the officials decide to go forward with expansion plans, the convention center will pay Fifth Avenue Landing and additional $13.5 million to take over the lease. The parcel, which is behind the center and next to the bay, is owned by the state and leased by the Port of San Diego. The Port Commission will vote on the deal in November.

Boosters of the 21-year-old convention center, which underwent a $216-million expansion that opened in 2001, say another expansion is needed to keep large conventions — most notably the annual Comic-Con International convention — coming to San Diego.

Mayor Jerry Sanders held a news conference Tuesday to voice his support for an expansion. Officials have yet to talk publicly about exactly how big they want the expansion to be or how it would be financed.

DAVID WASHBURN

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