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Comic-Con Museum to Open in Balboa Park

Mar 21, 2017

The Hall of Champions sports museum occupies the former Federal Building in Balboa Park.

A 1930s baseball bat, 1950s tennis racquet and 1980s skateboard — all totems of San Diego’s rich sporting history — are being swapped out for comics, movie props and souvenirs of today’s pop culture in a major shift at Balboa Park.

The San Diego Hall of Champions, a park institution since 1961, is going out of business and San Diego Comic-Con International is taking its place in a deal blessed by the city Wednesday and announced Thursday.

The sports museum, a creation of the late Bob Breitbard, builder of the San Diego Sports Arena and inveterate sports memorabilia collector, will send its Breitbard Hall of Fame plaques and other local sports legends to Petco Park, return its artifacts to donors and auction what’s not passed along to the San Diego History Center.

Meanwhile Comic-Con, another San Diego-born institution founded in 1970, will expand from just holding conventions to celebrating superheros, blockbuster movies and comic books. The nonprofit group will operate permanent museum to be called the Comic-Con Center for Popular Culture with rotating exhibitions — something convention enthusiasts might see as putting down roots.

“The Hall of Champions has our deepest appreciation in helping us to achieve the new chapter in Comic-Con history,” a Comic-Con spokesman said. “This center will provide a year-round interactive celebration of the innumerable aspects of popular art.”

The new museum would likely open no earlier than 2018, since the sports museum has nine months to vacate the building, north of the Air & Space Museum.

"Balboa Park is the perfect home for this new Comic-Con center to honor the popular arts," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in a statement. "As we continue to work on retaining Comic-Con in San Diego, this will be a great permanent fixture for San Diegans and visitors alike to celebrate pop culture all year long."

According to the lease agreement, the new museum “will be a place to learn about and interact with comics and related popular art forms on a year-round basis.”