Los Angeles Business Journal

Convention Center Remodel Moves Ahead Without NFL

By Howard Fine Originally published May 27, 2014 at 2:43 p.m., updated May 29, 2014 at 12:35 p.m.

Los Angeles city officials on Tuesday moved forward with a plan to remodel the Convention Center without a long-planned football stadium.

For the past four years, L.A. city officials had pushed a plan put forward by Anschutz Entertainment Group to build a stadium in the Convention Center parking lot. As part of the project, AEG would have torn down the west hall of the outmoded Convention Center and build a new wing.

But AEG so far has failed to reach an agreement with the National Football League or one of its teams to move a franchise to the proposed stadium. Negotiations slowed two years ago when AEG owner Phillip Anschutz announced he was putting the company up for sale and there has been little news since then.

AEG’s development agreement with the city for the stadium and its proposed Convention Center overhaul expires in October. It is not likely to be renewed, unless significant progress is made towards securing a team; even then, an extension would only last a few months.

Fed up with waiting for the NFL to make a move, city officials earlier this year quietly began working up an alternative, known as “Plan B” to revamp the Convention Center, which is seen as inadequate for large-scale conventions.

On Tuesday, with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s backing, an L.A. City Council committee voted to spend $600,000 in bond money to pay for predesign work for three applicants for the Convention Center remodel.

According to a city report presented Tuesday, the preliminary concept calls for adding 300,000 square feet of new exhibit space, 75,000 square feet of meeting space, a 60,000 square-foot ballroom and various façade upgrades. There will also be space set aside for a 1,000 room hotel to complement the J.W. Marriott/Ritz Carlton hotel complex next to the L.A. Live complex.

“I support moving forward on Plan B,” Garcetti said in a statement. “It’s time to modernize our Convention Center so our city attracts the nation's largest conventions and the economic benefits they provide.”

AEG, which last year won the right to operate the Convention Center, welcomed the city’s move.

“Building an NFL stadium remains our first choice and we do not believe it is too late to achieve that objective,” AEG spokesman Michael Roth said in an emailed statement. “However, we continue to support the City as, with the passage of time, it is becoming more imperative to explore alternative ways to modernize and expand the Convention Center as a means to bring additional conventions and greater economic impact to Los Angeles.”