Destination Spotlight: San Diego

April 26, 2024

What’s new in San Diego in 2024?

Earlier this year, the San Diego Tourism Authority hosted a media tour for event and trade show industry press that included four stops. Here’s what event organizers/exhibitors need to know about what’s new and trending in this popular destination.

San Diego International Airport

During a behind-the-scenes tour of the $3.4 billion construction project at the San Diego International Airport, Chief Development Officer Angela Shafer-Payne said the 661-acre airport currently serves 550 flights per day. 

Context: The existing Terminal 1 opened in 1967 while Terminal 2 opened in 1979. While the airport isn’t a hub for any airline, more than 11 million passengers used the airport in 2022, an increase of 42.50% compared to 2021

Need to know: A brand new Terminal 1 will open on schedule in September 2025. The new terminal will feature 19 new gates that will service Southwest, JetBlue, Frontier and Spirit. When complete, the terminal will also offer triple the concession space, two club lounges and a food hall with an outdoor deck featuring views of downtown.

Fun fact: The busiest day of the year at the airport is typically during the week of Comic-Con International, said Shafer-Payne. When American Society of Hematology comes to town like they did in December 2023, a direct flight on Air France transports a plane full of attendees from/to Paris.

Looking ahead: Once the new Terminal 1 opens, the existing Terminal 1 will come down beginning in October 2025. Renovations on Terminal 2 are expected to be completed in 2029, said Shafer-Payne.

Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina 

Sheraton San Diego

Located across the street from the San Diego International Airport, the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina is nearing the completion of a $100 million renovation of its public spaces, meeting space, guest rooms and suites.. 

Need to know: The hotel is completing a renovation of its 1,065 hotel rooms (80% are done as of January 2024), and every room has a balcony, said Sheraton Senior Sales Executive Kristin Frye during a tour of the hotel. Already complete: 130,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a 10,000 sq. ft. ballroom that’s divisible into three sections. 

Fun fact: Three fully electric vans transport guests to/from the airport from 4:45-12 a.m. — for free.

What’s new: The resort will also welcome four new restaurant concepts: Rumorosa, a Cali-Baja-inspired dining outlet with incredible views of the marina through floor-to-ceiling windows, the first San Diego Brewery X location; Sunglow harborside bar and cabana club; and Strada, a casual grab-and-go eatery.

Guest amenities: Renovated guest rooms feature new tools for productivity, such as a height-adjustable work table and layered lighting. With classic Sheraton signature amenities like the Sheraton Sleep Experience platform bed and LED lighting, the refurbished rooms offer a soothing color palette inspired by the natural colors of the marina and coast.

Don’t miss: Incredible views of the city, marina and bay throughout the hotel, especially from the lounge on the top floor. The lounge can host up to 100 guests. Chef Marcos Seville prepared a delicious, local-inspired menu for our group. Seville said the hotel can offer tamale classes, catch-and-cook fishing trips and more.

Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres 

Petco Park

During a tour, Petco Park Senior Director, Special Event Sales Kristie Ewing and Senior Manager, Business Communications Vanessa Dominguez pointed out that the 40,019-seat MLB ballpark has hosted a wide variety of high-profile events in recent months, including the 2023 Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27, 2023, the Zach Bryan concert on Dec. 30 and the San Diego Rodeo, the inaugural event held Jan. 12-14.

Need to know: Located across the street from the San Diego Convention Center, the venue is a popular venue for off-site events, as well as corporate and exhibitor events. For example, Petco Park hosted ASH-a-Palooza, a networking and mentoring event, in December.

Fun fact: Petco Park will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2024. To commemorate the milestone, the Padres have invested nearly $20 million to renovate Gallagher Square, providing fans and the community with more amenities, such as an expanded playground for wider range of ages and abilities, a fenced, off-leash dog park, temporary pickleball courts, the Tony Gwynn Terrace viewing deck and picnic space and public art displays featuring local artists. Renovations will be complete in time for opening day this spring.

Good to know: Located in the Gaslamp District, Petco Park is connected to the Omni San Diego Hotel, a 511-room property that is set to complete renovations in early 2024. 

Idea you can steal: Events can be held in the locker rooms, outfitted with personalized lockers and jerseys for VIP guests. Events can also be held on the field or in suites. In June 2023, the National Electrical Contractors Association hosted its E2E Summit, with executive-to-executive meetings in the park’s suites.

San Diego Convention Center (SDCC) 

San Diego CC

SDCC President and CEO Rip Rippetoe and Sodexo Live Chef Sufi Karaien showed off the center’s renovated kitchen and shared some insight on the venue’s food sustainability efforts.

Need to know: No food waste goes to landfills. All food is either donated, used for employee dining, animal feed or compost.

Made Local: SDCC provided the group with a goodie bag of treats from the center’s kitchen, including locally roasted coffee, locally made balsamic fig, jam, San Diego bar, San Diego honey, chocolate chip cookies made in the newly remodeled kitchen and one of 600 chocolate bars that were especially made for PCMA Convening Leaders. 

Fun fact: Every year for Comic-Con International, the kitchen team makes four custom chocolate bars to sell. In 2023, they sold out 6000 chocolate bars.


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Partner Voices
Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact