As San Diego’s highest profile convention is considering leaving town and pressure from the Union-Tribune’s editorial page, the Unified Port of San Diego says it needs one more month to finalize a deal that would give the city control over the land it wants to expand its Convention Center.
Port Commissioner Lee Burdick said the port would postpone approving a $14.5 million deal between the city-run nonprofit Convention Center Corp. and Fifth Avenue Landing, a private company, that would eliminate one major hurdle for the expansion . Fifth Avenue Landing currently holds the lease to the property. A decision had been scheduled for Tuesday.
“I think at the end of the day everybody is going to be happy,” Burdick said.
The city wants the land to expand the Convention Center, an $800 million project designed to keep large conventions in town and attract new ones.
Comic-Con, the homegrown San Diego entertainment extravaganza, is looking at other cities as hosts for when its San Diego Convention Center contract expires in 2012. San Diego has put in a bid for a three-year extension and Anaheim officials confirmed they were bidding today.
Comic-Con officials confirmed in an interview that Los Angeles also is in the running for the convention, too.
“I believe a proposal came in from Los Angeles as well,” Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer said.
Glanzer said any potential expansion of San Diego’s Convention Center “isn’t the deciding factor” on Comic-Con staying in town. But Glanzer said Comic-Con is following the expansion effort and hoped for progress soon.
The Convention Center land deal originally was scheduled for port approval in December, then bumped to March and now will need another month.
Still, Burdick said there’s been substantial movement in the last few weeks when there was concern that “the deal was collapsing under its own weight.”
Burdick was one of three port commissioners, along with fellow city of San Diego appointee Steve Cushman and Coronado’s Louis Smith, who entered into direct talks on the deal.
“It just seemed like there was a level of frustration and perhaps some talking past each other that threatened successful consummation of negotiations,” she said.
The deal has numerous complicated parts, including what, if any, rent the port would receive for the land and the fate of a hotel long planned for the property.
— LIAM DILLON