E3 Signs 3-Year Deal to Stay in LA

DANICA TORMOHLEN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE
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Washington, DC — After nearly two years of negotiation and serious consideration about a possible move, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has signed a three-year contract to stay in Los Angeles through 2015. Owned by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and produced by IDG World Expo, E3 2013 will be held June 11-13 at the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC), L.A. LIVE and other venues throughout the city. For 15 of the show’s 18 years, the event has been held in Los Angeles.

The contract dispute began over pending construction of the new Farmers Field stadium, which will include the demolition of the West Hall of the LACC, temporarily eliminating 210,000 square feet of show floor space. In 2012, E3 used the West and South Halls of the LACC. Show organizers were concerned about the impact of the construction on its annual event, which attracted 45,700 attendees from 103 countries and 200 exhibitors in 2012. This year’s event generated 30,000 room nights, with an economic impact of $40 million to the city of Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.

Last August, the Los Angeles City Council approved preliminary plans for construction of the proposed $1.2 billion football stadium next to the Staples Center and the LACC, but construction schedules and specific plans had been under review.Last week, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which is developing the new stadium, proposed a plan to the city council that would increase exhibition space at the center to 911,711 square feet from 767,000 square feet of exhibition space in the existing convention center halls, according to John Wickham, chief legislative analyst, Los Angeles Convention & Exhibition Center Authority.

Under the current proposal, the West Hall will be rebuilt as an extension to the center’s existing South Hall between the 2013 and 2014 E3 shows. Once construction of the new extension is complete, the two halls can be combined to offer contiguous exhibit space. AEG expects the entire project to be completed by 2016.

“We have been assured by the city and AEG that the West Hall will still be operational for next year’s show, and attendees will not be inconvenienced,” said Dan Hewitt, vice president of media relations and event management, ESA. Demolition is expected to begin soon after E3 2013 closes in mid June, and AEG expects to have a new LACC hall open and functioning for the 2014 show, he said.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been “extremely supportive of E3” and brought together the key groups involved in the negotiation — the city, the convention center and AEG, said Hewitt.

“My office was committed to doing whatever it took to keep the largest annual conference that the city hosts here for another three years,” said Villaraigosa. “I personally joined in the negotiations, and we worked with all parties to ensure the needs of E3 would be met.”

Timothy Leiweke president and CEO, AEG, agreed. “ESA’s commitment to remain in Los Angeles is a critical endorsement of Los Angeles as one of the nation’s most important convention destinations,” he said. “Working with ESA to provide the confidence in scheduling they have requested has truly been a collaborative effort.”

Hewitt declined to comment on which cities were under consideration, but the Los Angeles Times reported that New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and Chicago were vying for the event. In 1997 and 1998, E3 moved to Atlanta while the LACC was renovated. And in 2007, E3 was restructured and moved to Santa Monica, CA. The invitation-only event, renamed the E3 Media and Business Summit, attracted less than 10,000 attendees. The format was later scrapped, and the event was moved back to Los Angeles in 2008, where it has continued to grow after attracting only 5,000 attendees in 2008. Peaking at 70,000 attendees in 2005, attendance at the event is capped at 45,000, according to ESA.

Reach Dan at (202) 223-2400 or dhewitt@theesa.com