The colorful cosplay and fan fun is heading for Inner Harbor again this weekend, as Otakon arrives for another year. But this year’s edition of the anime convention is bittersweet for Baltimore.
Otakon is a treat for Baltimore residents who like to people-watch. Behind all the fun, Otakon also has a big economic impact. It’s one of the biggest annual events Baltimore attracts. Attendance has hit more than 30,000 in the past. The dollar value for the local economy in hotel room books and related spending has been pegged at more than $10 million. This year, it follows BronyCon (about 7,500 attendees) and the National Urban League convention (more than 10,000 attendees) as the third in a string of big summer events. If it follows last year’s numbers around 28,000, however, Otakon will likely attract more people than those two events combined.
So losing the convention when it relocates to National Harbor next year is a big hit for Baltimore. The move has been in the works for a long time, but the reality is now setting in. This year’s Otakon also arrives as the conversation about renovating the Baltimore Convention Center is picking back up. As it happens, the aging convention center and lack of space for future growth were cited as a reason for Otakon’s move.
Otakon’s convention chair told the Baltimore Sun that the move is more of a “see you later,” but what form that will take remains to be seen.
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