Comic-Con’s neighbor hotel, the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, is wrapping up over a year and a half of construction on an expansion project that is adding a huge amount of event space to the hotel, including two ballrooms that are the largest on the West Coast. Attendees may have seen the early stages of construction during last year’s Comic-Con if they made the trek from the convention center to the Hyatt.
Scheduled to open in June, the Marriott’s expansion adds on 280,000 square feet of space for meetings and events. The Marriott Grand and Pacific San Diego Ballrooms are the expansion’s largest rooms, with the ability to each seat 3,700 people.
Also inside the expansion space are the Coronado Terrace and the Bayside Room, adding extra event areas with beautiful views of the marina and San Diego Bay.
Above the ballrooms is the Marina Grand Terrace, featuring 26,450 square feet of outdoor space overlooking the water. (This will certainly be home to many swanky parties during Comic-Con that none of us will be invited to.) Between the Marriott and the Hyatt Hotel will be a newly renovated public promenade, allowing easy access from Harbor Drive to the Marina.
Michael Aldworth, Senior Event Manager at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, gave us a few extra details on the project, including the fact that Comic-Con will be expanding to use the new Marriott ballrooms as official panel venues. “It was our intention to give SDCC the new space to help keep the convention in San Diego,” Aldworth said. “It will allow SDCC to free up crowded space from the Convention Center and move it here.”
We asked Aldworth what Comic-Con means to his hotel: “The Marriott Marquis values SDCC very much. We led the push to get all hotels onboard to keep SDCC in San Diego. It’s like having the Super Bowl in San Diego every year.”
Although we talk a lot about how much work goes into San Diego Comic-Con, it’s not just on the side of exhibitors and CCI staff. Aldworth explained that the staff of the Marriott Marquis plan for SDCC week more than many others during the year, but that some of the staff gets as excited about the event as attendees.
“We have SDCC down!” Aldworth continues. “The Marriott Marquis has a great relationship with SDCC and we work very closely with them all year long. This is my tenth year working with SDCC, so when it comes to show time, it’s like a well-oiled machine! Our associates LOVE SDCC; it’s such a departure from the other conventions we do the rest of the year. Several months out from SDCC, the associates start asking me all sorts of questions about what’s happening this year.”
Attendees may recall the Conan wrap that graced their property last year, which we covered going up. Will we see a wrap on the expansion as well as the hotel itself this year? Aldworth explained, “We will have two wraps this year as we have in the past. The Port of San Diego, who governs our property and all properties around the Bay, limits the number of wraps we can do; I’m working with them to allow us to have more. I hope to have a wrap on the new building, but I can’t say for sure if we will.”
We couldn’t resist wrapping up with a question for Aldworth on the silly side. If there was a Superhero battle in San Diego, which character would you not mind taking out part of the Marriott, in the process of saving the world? “Superman, he’s the Greatest!”