Pouria Abbassi, GM of L.A. Convention Center, to Step Down Ahead of Big Changes in LACC Neighborhood

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Los Angeles, CA – Pouria Abbassi stepped down June 4 as general manager and CEO of the Los Angeles Convention Center as the planning continues for a massive football stadium next door and a potential change in the relationship between the center and city hall.

Abbassi, who joined the convention center six years ago, departed to become senior vice president of Phoenix House, a New York-based company that provides treatment programs in California and nine other states. A replacement was not immediately named and will be selected by the mayor’s office.

Abbassi kept the center in the black and also oversaw its upgrade to LEED Gold certification during his tenure. He was immersed in recent months in the blockbuster stadium plans, which put his replacement in the middle of one of the biggest development projects in recent city history.

“It’s going to be far more than just running a convention center,” Abbassi told Trade Show Executive about the pressures the new general manager will face. “It is also understanding the dynamics of an entire growing district.”

After years of being relatively isolated in terms of geography and the City Hall spotlight, the convention center is being positioned to pursue larger trade shows by offering the planned stadium as overflow exhibit and event space. At the same time, however, it will be in close proximity to the National Football League and the existing L.A. Live entertainment district.

The convention center has been operating as in independent agency of the city, which has kept its management and its finances relatively out of the reach of city politicians. That status could change under the plans for the stadium project, which allow the mayor’s office to examine the management structure of the center and make any changes needed to streamline the relationships with the stadium and the city. “Whatever it takes to get the (stadium) project off the ground,” Abbassi.

When Abbassi left for his new job, the Farmers Field project is well into the planning stages. It includes not only an NFL-quality football stadium but also a new wing to the convention center, which will add approximately 200,000 square feet of exhibit space to the center’s inventory and make the stadium available for overflow exhibit space and events. “It will be quite a formidable marketing tool for Los Angeles,” Abbassi said.

The stadium is penciled in for completion in 2017 and will be built after the construction of the new convention center space is completed.

AEG, the developers of Farmers Field, recently posted a new animated rendering of the stadium on its website, www.farmersfield.com.  The renderings include a detailed look at how the interior of the convention center will look.

Reach Pouria Abbassi at (213) 765-6317 or administration@lacclink.net