Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fire marshal turns away hundreds at packed Tampa Comic Con

TAMPA — The crowd started building in the morning. By noon Sunday, it was clear to organizers of Tampa Bay Comic Con they needed a bigger venue.

The lobby at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel was swamped. A line snaked out the door to the parking lot. Hallways clogged with vendors and costumed fans. Hotel guests complained.

One, in fact, called the Fire Department.

Enter Fire Investigator Bill Mann of the Tampa Fire Marshal's Office. He showed up at 12:30 p.m., but even he had trouble squeezing into the lobby.

"They were packed in like sardines," he said.

Mann told hotel management to speak with the promoter about halting further admissions.

Action 3 Events and Promotions Inc., entering its fourth year as the two-day convention's owner, complied. It was forced to turn away hundreds.

"It was very disappointing," said Stephen Solomon, a partner in Action 3. "Especially when people have driven great distances and are being turned away, it's heartbreaking as a promoter."

Mann said that given thousands had shown up and the fact that hallways and exits were being blocked, he had no choice. "The promoter oversold the event," he said.

The main ballroom, which housed vendors, was designed for no more than 1,200 people, according to the hotel's website. Between that and the lobby, thousands were crammed in.

Solomon estimated the crowd size at close to 4,000.

Many came to see star attraction Lauren Cohan of The Walking Dead. The fan favorite showed up Sunday to sign autographs and participate in a panel discussion. Saturday's events drew about 2,500.

The star's popularity, coupled with media exposure chronicling her appearance, likely sparked the outpouring, Solomon said.

For now, he said, the company is exploring ways to reimburse fans, possibly hundreds, who paid but couldn't get in. Daily admission for those over 12 was $15. The company plans to make an announcement at

In the future, he said, Action 3 will try to book the Tampa Convention Center. The next show is scheduled for Aug. 25-26. "We need a larger venue," he said.

Said Mann: "I think that's a good idea."

Fire marshal turns away hundreds at packed Tampa Comic Con 04/07/13 [Last modified: Sunday, April 7, 2013 10:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. J.R. Sweezy shows what Bucs were missing


    By Greg Auman

    TAMPA —- Sunday's season-opening win against the Bears saw the debut of 13 Bucs, a mix of rookies and free-agent veterans.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive guard J.R. Sweezy (73), seen at center, runs through drills during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, July 31, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  2. Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs-Vikings features a battle of top rookies


    Greg Auman looks at how much the Bucs have changed since the last time they played the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 in our latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) makes a reception as Chicago Bears free safety Eddie Jackson (39) tackles him Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Hillsborough okays $1.25 million in Hurricane Irma-related spending with more to come


    TAMPA -- Hillsborough County commissioners approved $1.25 million in expenses related to Hurricane Irma on Wednesday with many more costs expected to come.

    The overflowing Alafia River, swollen by rains from Hurricane Irma, caused massive flooding near Lithia Pinecrest Road. On Wednesday, Hillsborough County approved $1.25 million in Irma-related spending.
  4. 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' is exhausting, crass and too long


    Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a tarnished sequel demolishing the original's balderdash charm in a torrent of tumble-dry camera moves, CGI slosh and Elton John f-bombs.

    Taron Egerton stars in Twentieth Century Fox's "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," also starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum, Mark Strong, Elton John, Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges. (Giles Keyte/20th Century Fox)
  5. New 'cantina-style' Taco Bells to serve alcohol, ditch drive-thrus by 2022


    Taco Bell is ditching drive-thrus and adding alcohol.

    Taco Bell plans to open more than 300 "cantina style" stores across the country that ditches the drive-thru and adds alcohol. [Times Files]