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Comic Con could have a huge economic impact for SLC

By Paul Nelson  |  Posted Sep 5th, 2013 @ 8:25pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — For sci-fi, fantasy or anime fans, today is a very big day. The first Salt Lake Comic Con kicks off at the Salt Palace.

Since this is Salt Lake's first Comic Con, it's hard to know just how big the economic impact will be. But we do know conventions like this can be, as some financial reporters call it, an economic monster.

San Diego Comic Con is still the biggest convention of its kind. That event brought in about 130,000 people during the 2013 convention and has a reported economic impact of $180 million. Smaller comic conventions like Dragon Con brought in $40 million into Atlanta, according to CNN, with about 46,000 people attending.

Salt Lake Comic Con Organizer, Dan Farr, has been to similar conventions all over the country.

"You could see how much commerce was going on there. It was just erupting with commerce in those events," Farr said.

But if Comic Cons in other cities are such economic juggernauts, why hasn't anyone used the name "Comic Con" in Utah before?

"It takes a high risk to do something like this, because you have to put it out there for the celebrities and make it so that it's financially interesting for them to come out," said Farr.

Well, plenty of celebrities found it interesting. Big names in geekdom will make an appearance, including William Shatner and Stan Lee.

Plus, vendors are coming in from all over the world. Weta, the company that makes all of the swords and weaponry for the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, came in all the way from New Zealand.

Visitor, Magnus Hjert, said that this is the first Comic Con they have attended in the U.S. outside of San Diego.

"The guys who run this show came and saw us at San Diego Comic Con and invited us here. We're very pleased to be here," Hjert said. "We want to see the fans. We want to see people in cool costumes come here dressed up as Gandalf or dwarves or whatever they like."

Then there are the first-time convention vendors like Fear Factory. Owner Bob Dunfield said he'll be ready. He's bringing in the paranormal group that likes to hunt for ghosts on his property.

"You wouldn't think so, but women between 45 and 55 are the largest group [of ghost hunters], and most of them come with their own equipment," Dunfield said.

At first, organizers were hoping to bring in about 10,000 people to the show. But over 30,000 have bought tickets so far.

When doors opened on Thursday, lines wrapped around the building for people waiting to get in to the Salt Palace.

Richard Hatch is a guest celebrity visiting the SLC Comic Con. He played Apollo on the original "Battlestar Galatica". He said he was thrilled to see so many people interested in the convention.

"Geeks and nerd have become the rockstars of the world, right?," Hatch said.

Glenn Morshower, an actor from the "Transformers" series, said he enjoys the opportunity to meet so many new people.

"You know what it's like? It's summer camp for adults," Morshower said. "You know, we get away for a couple of days, we all get to know each other."

Contributing: Ashley Kewish

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