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Volunteers must pay, join fan group to work at Phoenix Comicon

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PHOENIX — Volunteering at Phoenix Comicon reportedly got a little more expensive this week.

According to Gizmodo, the massive celebration of everything comics and movies now requires volunteers to join the Blue Ribbon Army — a former fan group that is now a nonprofit — before they are offered any shifts.

And volunteers must pay to join Blue Ribbon Army. Memberships start at $20 and go as high as $100. The group said membership fees go toward funding Phoenix Comicon.

Matthew Solberg, one of Comicon’s directors, told previous volunteers about the change in an email obtained by Bleeding Cool. In the email, he wrote the change was brought about because some volunteers were picking up their complimentary pass to the event and failing to do the assigned work.

One team had fifty-four staff members that collected their badge and benefits but did not show up for their shifts or tasks onsite. We had no method to prevent this from happening again under the existing structure, nor did we have accurate means to determine how widespread this situation was across other departments.

Solberg gave an example: In 2015, about 1,700 people were registered to work the event, but more than 2,200 picked up a free pass. He said the event should require fewer than 1,000 people to run successfully.

Ticket prices for Comicon vary, but average about $20 or more for single-day access, while a full, four-day event pass can cost $55 or more.

Phoenix Comicon has been exploding in popularity in recent years. In 2002, about 400 people were in attendance. Last year, a record 106,096 people passed through the doors.

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