PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Thousands of people drove, flew, and teleported into Providence on Friday for the first day of Rhode Island Comic Con.
“The biggest show in the smallest state” is expected to draw about 50,000 to the Rhode Island Convention and Dunkin’ Donuts Centers this weekend.
The Providence-Warwick Visitors Bureau expects the three-day event will be a huge boost to the capital city’s economy.
“We estimate about $2 million when all is done,” said Bureau spokesperson Kristin Adamo. “People selling things, there’s sales tax, there’s monies being paid to the Convention Center, there’s restaurants, hotels, even transportation, people are using Ubers and taxis, so when you look at it all together its a pretty great weekend.”
The event was expanded to include both facilities after the Convention Center exceeded capacity in previous years, forcing organizers to turn away ticketed guests.
“The fire marshal can look at a screen and know exactly how many people are coming in and going out at the same time, so we know no matter what we’ll never be over capacity again,” explained Larry Lepore, general manager of the Convention and Dunkin’ Donuts Centers.
Lepore said the event draws more and more attendees every year so he hopes to expand beyond the two buildings next year.
“We’ve outgrown these two facilities,” he said. “If we want to get bigger and better, we’re going to need to now maybe bring it out to Waterplace Park and that area, expand it throughout the city.”
Organizers have been working each year to improve crowd control and bottlenecks as the event continues to grow.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said the city police department also has a plan in place to handle the extra traffic.
Saturday’s event is sold out, but organizers said tickets are still available for Sunday.