Convention Center a Success
The Los Angeles Business Journal has frequently characterized The Los Angeles Convention Center as underutilized and underbooked. A review of the status of the recent Convention Center Expansion Project might enlighten your readers.
Most major conventions and exhibitions are booked three to five years in advance. When the Convention Center Expansion Project was completed in late 1993 (on time and under budget), national convention planners reacted by declaring the new L.A. Convention Center to be well designed and worth a visit.
Unfortunately, the Northridge earthquake in early 1994 dampened some of that enthusiasm. As for advance bookings, convention planners are conservative and will not contract for convention and exhibition space in an untested facility. With competition from existing and operating convention centers in Anaheim, Las Vegas and San Francisco, why should they book a convention in a newly-expanded facility?
As a participant in the opening of the expanded L.A. Convention Center in late 1993, I can assure you that our expectations were that the L.A. Convention Center would not reach its full capacity (at approximately 80 percent occupancy) until 1998. To expect otherwise would have been contrary to the reality of the convention planning business.
I am pleased to report that in the first quarter of 1997, the L.A. Convention Center has lived up to our expectations.
During the first three months of 1997 the Center ran a 78 percent occupancy and hosted 103 events ranging from a meeting for 10 people to massive shows which drew thousands.
The L.A. Auto Show drew close to 500,000 patrons and the Boat Show over 100,000, while high-tech conventions, such as Computer Telephony and Spring Internet, put heavy demands on the Center’s fiber-optic backbone and data transmission capabilities. Over, 1,000 voice and data lines were installed for exhibitors at the Spring Internet Exhibition which had 54,000 attendees, doubling last year’s attendance at San Jose. The California Gift Show filled 866,000 square feet of exhibit space the most of any event ever held at the Center.
WESTEC, a heavy equipment show, drew over 40,000 people to an event which filled the entire South building
The good news is that all six of these shows are scheduled to return to the Los Angeles Convention Center in 1998. As further confirmation of the Center’s success, downtown hotel occupancies rose 15.5 percent last year, maintaining a 60.8 percent occupancy rate in 1996.
Los Angeles Convention and Exhibition Center Authority