Tampa Bay Comic Con wrapped up Sunday evening following a record turnout for the even that took organizers and fans by surprise, while pumping thousands of dollars into the economy.
Comic Con organizers said as many as 30,000 fans and families packed into the Convention Center for the event, far surpassing the crowd totals from previous years.
"We were expecting 20 thousand people over the course of three days, we had an unexpected huge turnout [Saturday]," said event organizer Stephen Solomon, adding there was likely a crowd of 20,000 Saturday alone. "People like comics, people like toys. We have stars from the most popular shows here: Game of Thrones, Walking Dead and the Hunger Games films, so I guess when you mix all that together it appeals to a large amount of people."
The three-day convention brought in visitors from across the state and country, while giving Tampa's Comic Con a place among the larger similar conventions across the country.
"It exceeded [my expectations]," said Richard Philpot of Tampa, who attended the event with this two children. "I didn't think it would be this big."
"This one surprised me. I did not expect it to be this big," said Sydney Wetzel, who drove from Melbourne Beach to attend the event.
The larger-than-expected turnout took some neighboring business owners off guard.
James Bronte, owner of Hattricks Tavern on South Franklin Street, said his restaurant doubled its typical weekend business.
"Between Friday, Saturday and today, it's just been very overwhelming," he said. "Usually you can turn some tables and you're busy for an hour or two, but since 11 a.m. when I opened all the way until I left at 7, this place was full, standing room only."
Next year's Tampa Bay Comic Con has already been scheduled for February 28 through March 2.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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