HOUSTON (June 4, 2014) – In its sixth year, Comicpalooza drew a record crowd of nearly 33,000 to the George R. Brown Convention Center over Memorial Day Weekend.
Personalities including Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno and comic book pioneer Stan Lee headlined the mega comic convention that expanded this year to four days over the holiday weekend. Fans arrived from across the country to trade in comics and memorabilia, dress up as their favorite characters and participate in celebrity meet-and-greets.
Attendance was up 55% over 2013 and was nearly triple the 11,000 figure recorded in 2012. A survey by an independent third-party firm shows that Comicpalooza prompted people to book at least 10,000 room nights at hotels, mostly in and around Downtown Houston over the weekend. Based on those conservative figures, it's estimated that the comic and pop culture convention generated more than $10 million for the city.
John Simons, the founder and chairman of Comicpalooza, says he could not have imagined back in 2008 that his idea for a comic con in Houston would be so well received. "We took a risk because we believed there was an opportunity there with fans," he says. "But the success that we've experienced after just six years is incredible."
The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau officially partnered with Comicpalooza in 2010, helping relocate the fledging event to the George R. Brown Convention Center and move the date from March to Memorial Day. The change to a long holiday weekend enabled more fans from out of town an opportunity to travel for Comicpalooza and was strategically valuable to hotels and the convention center because it doesn't conflict with other business, allowing the event to grow unfettered.
"It's been a focus of ours for several years now to partner with operators and help establish long-term, annual conventions and tradeshows here in Houston during ‘need periods,'" says Greg Ortale, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Comicpalooza was one of the first of these events and has proven a wise investment-both for our hospitality industry and for the thousands of fans that now make Houston the place to be each Memorial Day."
Several Downtown hotels have seen a significant uptick in business over the holiday weekend in recent years. Stan Skadal, senior director of sales and marketing at the Hyatt Regency Houston, says it was a banner few days for his hotel. "Thanks to Comicpalooza, our occupancy figures were strong and our two restaurants -- Shula's Steak House and Spindletop -- performed very well. The show certainly generates positive activity for downtown Houston during an off-peak, holiday weekend."
Simons says he believes the diversity and unique personalities of Houston have been integral to Comicpalooza's rise. "This event is a wonderful patchwork-a community event fed by an eclectic and often unlikely group of individuals. I think, perhaps more than any other major event in the city, Comicpalooza is a manifestation of the great collective that is Houston. I'm incredibly proud to have built this in our city with a great team."
Senior PR Manager GHCVB
PR Manager GHCVB