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Salt Lake Comic Con building revenue, loyal fan base

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake Comic Con is becoming rapidly recognized as a three-day geek nirvana that descends on Utah's capital city twice a year, but it's more than that.

It's also a growing, profitable business endeavor.

Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Dan Farr estimates the fledgling convention netted more than $1.8 million in revenue at last month's FanX convention. That's at least 40 percent more than established comic convention company Wizard World averaged per event last year, he said.

It costs more than $1 million to put on Salt Lake Comic Con, Farr said. The company now has 10 full- and part-time employees, in addition to the small army of volunteers that turns out for each event.

"We're still in startup mode. Nobody is retiring at this point," said Farr, who calls the team a group of fans as well as entrepreneurs.

Farr didn't disclose Salt Lake Comic Con's profit margin. The biggest gains, he said, were in loyal fans who will hopefully keep returning.

Comic con organizers are focused on investing back into the show, Farr said, and are confident they will be well-received as they push for bigger, better events and top-billed celebrity guests.

Salt Lake Comic Con FanX sold more than 100,000 tickets, ranging from about $30 for a single-day pass to $175 for VIP entry, and making it the largest convention in Utah. VIP passes, which granted early entrance and shorter lines for panels and to meet celebrities, sold out weeks before the event.

Ticket holders came from as many as 40 states for FanX, and promotion for the next comic con will extend its reach outside Utah, Farr said.

Fans doled out additional cash for special FanX events, such as the Star Trek Ultimate Xperience panel featuring a collection of "Star Trek" stars. Those tickets cost anywhere from $25 for general seating to $130 for the best seats in the house.

So far, no special events have been announced for this fall's convention.

Tickets for this September's local comic con went on sale Tuesday as Farr and others announced the initial celebrity lineup, and fans started buying immediately.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we have over 1,000 people or even several thousand people buy tickets on the first day," Farr said just a few hours after the announcement.

For now, a three-day multipass is on sale for $30, half what it cost at the previous two events, but VIP passes jumped to $200 apiece. Salt Lake Comic Con also introduced a new "gold pass," a three-day pass with perks such as autograph vouchers and a T-shirt, but no single-day passes are currently being offered.

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