This weekend, Utah gets its first Comic Con. With guests ranging from William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk of “Star Trek”) and Stan Lee (the co-creator of such superhero legends as “Iron Man” and “X-Men”) to actors from “The Hobbit” and “Star Wars,” tickets have sold like crazy, and the convention is on track to beat all-time first-year attendance records of all other Comic Cons.
In short, Salt Lake City is going to be a madhouse Thursday through Saturday. And not just because of the more than 30,000 convention attendees. There’s also the annual Greek Festival, the Utah State Fair, and how could we possibly forget our own school going up against the University of Utah (although granted, that’s a home game for us, so it’ll probably just suck for Utah fans coming down from Salt Lake City)? All on the same weekend. It’s going to be crazy. And it’s going to be awesome, and not just for Comic Con fans.
Of course, parking is going to be a nightmare. And trying to get a bite to eat at restaurants within a mile of the Salt Palace Convention Center won’t be a walk in the park, either. But you know what? These are all good things.
You probably expect us to now go into a tirade about how we as Utahns should be grateful that we’re going to have to wait in traffic for six hours to drive one block, because all of this is going to boost our economy, etc. And yeah, that’s a great reason. Attendees have to eat and park, and many take breaks by going through local stores and potentially buying stuff. It also lets visitors check out our state’s capitol, and if they like what they see, they’ll be back to spend even more money. Money! Economy! It’s always a good thing.
On a somewhat related but slightly different scale, successful conventions like this can help a host of other causes. For convention attendees, it might mean even more high-profile guests for next year’s convention. Maybe they’ll expand it to four days instead of three. Or make the hours longer. Or do a number of other crazy things. For people in the general public, it might mean that other events and conventions of a non-pop-culture nature will come to us. We’ve already got an awesome outdoor recreation convention. While it’s not Salt Lake City, we have the Sundance Film Festival in Park City and Boston-qualifying marathons in the Ogden area.
Staging and successfully pulling off Comic Con alongside all of the other events this weekend has the potential of impressing important people. It showcases what we can do and what we can handle, much like the 2002 Olympics. And it makes living here more appealing (insert economy-boosting lecture on quality and draw of living here). Comic Con and all our other highly publicized events makes living in Utah fun, and if they’re successful, people will talk, other people will notice, and we might get even more fun.
So while you’re stuck in traffic, watching a guy in a cardboard Iron Man suit cross the street next to another guy in Superman spandex, just smile and think to yourself of all the potential fun Comic Con could bring to our state.