This weekend, downtown Los Angeles will be crawling with comic-book nerds, movie geeks and cosplayers of all stripes as WonderCon moves into the L.A. Convention Center for the first time.

More than 60,000 pop-culture fans are expected to attend the three-day event, injecting tens of millions of dollars into the local economy on an otherwise slow Easter weekend and helping Los Angeles audition for Comic-Con — WonderCon’s big sister show and “the granddaddy of comic-book conventions”.

The show is expected to draw around $20 million in direct spending at hotels, restaurants and shops, and contribute a total economic impact of around $36 million from an attractive millennial demographic. Last year, 71 percent of WonderCon attendees fell between the ages of 17 and 34, while 63 percent were under 30. They split almost evenly along gender lines, with 53 percent male and 47 percent female.

The influx of visitors will fill hotel rooms that would otherwise be vacant during the religious holiday weekend. Whereas occupancy rates typically hover around 30 to 40 percent over the Easter frame, this year Brad Gessner, general manager of the Los Angeles Convention Center and vice president of AEG Facilities, expects downtown hotels to sell out. Indeed, there are no more rooms available in the official reduced-rate WonderCon block, with several other host hotels reporting rooms “almost sold out”.

Meanwhile, the LACC has contracted with 15 food trucks to park on the Petree and Gilbert Lindsay Plazas, providing food options in addition to the Compass and Galaxy Cafés and exhibit-hall concessions inside. There are another 20 restaurants at L.A. Live nearby.

WonderCon draws attendance on par with E3 in June and the Anime Expo in July, and will utilize the entire convention center as well as the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live.

WonderCon got its start in the Bay Area in the late ’80s and stayed in San Francisco after Comic-Con bought it in 2001. When its home the Moscone Center underwent a remodel in 2012, the show moved to Anaheim in Southern California. It had to relocate again this year for the same reason, as the Anaheim Convention Center is in the midst of an extensive expansion that’s not expected to be completed until next year.

That opened a door for Los Angeles, which has been aggressively courting Comic-Con to move from its longtime home in San Diego to the entertainment capital of the world. In the meantime, WonderCon will serve as a trial for the big show, which draws more than twice as many attendees.

“It’s like any show: If they’re very happy with the city that they’re in and the building that they’re in, it’s very difficult to get them to move, but when there’s a small opening like the one that we got in Anaheim, we jumped on it and were successful in coaxing them here this year.” Brad Gessner

He should know: Gessner worked at the San Diego Convention Center, and thus with Comic-Con, for 14 years (six as general manager) before joining AEG, which operates the LACC, in 2012.

Downtown Los Angeles doesn’t have as attractive a hotel package as the Anaheim Convention Center, which is located near Disneyland, or the San Diego Convention Center, which is near the Gaslamp Quarter on the San Diego Bay. But L.A. will add 2,000 to 3,000 hotel rooms to the 3,200 within walking distance of LACC over the next couple of years, Gessner said, and the city boasts other advantages over its rivals for the cons.

For one, LACC is bigger than the San Diego Convention Center. Comic-Con’s current home has about 525,000 square feet in its ground level exhibit hall (plus 90,000 in the upstairs Sails Pavilion) compared to L.A.’s 720,000. But in San Diego, about 65,000 of that floor space goes to Hall H, where the most popular panels are presented, while L.A. can put those events in the Microsoft Theater or elsewhere at L.A. Live. (Staples Center, anyone?)

“They outgrew San Diego probably five years ago, and now they’ve just had to contain it. They can’t sell any more tickets, and they can’t do any more additional programming.”

Los Angeles is also home to the Hollywood studios.

“What we really have going for us frankly that San Diego doesn’t have or Anaheim doesn’t have is we’ve got all the studios right here,” Gessner said. “That’s really what this show has turned into, especially with all the sci-fi and superhero genre movies and TV shows. It’s turned into huge business, and all the actors and actresses and studios by and large are right here in our backyard.”

Although the movie studios have nowhere near the presence on the WonderCon schedule as they do at Comic-Con, Paramount is bringing its “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” sequel, and Warner Bros. and New Line are presenting a couple of their horror flicks. That’s about the same level of participation from big films as last year.

WonderCon spokesman Glanzer told me via email that “a number of studios and networks are participating, and each year it’s different based upon project that may be appropriate as well as timing of those projects.”

WonderCon will be back in Anaheim next year, Gessner said, as the LACC wasn’t able to book the preferred dates for the event. “Dates were a prime consideration for choosing L.A.” this year as well, WonderCon’s Glanzer said.

In the meantime, L.A. is going to keep lobbying to lure Comic-Con, which is booked in San Diego through 2018.

Much will depend upon negotiations that are currently underway in San Diego,” Glanzer said, but “whether it’s in ’19 or ’20 or’ 21 or beyond, we’re going to keep tying.” Gessner said.