Los Angeles Convention Center reports first profit in years

L.A. Convention Center, which had been running at a deficit, reports first profit in years

After years of running at a deficit, the Los Angeles Convention Center is reporting profits of $3.3 million for the first year that the facility has been turned over to a private operator.

The operator, a division of AEG, the entertainment group that owns and operates the adjacent Staples Center and L.A. Live,  said it turned the center into a moneymaker by running it more efficiently.

For example, Brad Gessner, senior vice president and general manager at the convention center, said AEG cut staffing from about 200 workers to 91 and hired a contractor to manage the 5,400 parking spaces at the center.

"We are running this like a business," Gessner said.

He also said AEG has increased the number of television shows, commercials and movies filming at the center. AEG is now looking at plans to sell advertising in the center's parking garage, Gessner said.

"We are always looking for new entrepreneurial ways to generate more revenues,” he said.

AEG holds a contract to operate the convention center for another four years.

For the last five years, the convention center has run on a deficit, costing the city more than $48,000 in 2013 and $1.8 million in 2012.

But city officials note that Los Angeles has benefited from the center because trade shows and conventions draw thousands of visitors who spend money at hotels, restaurants, clubs and shops.

"Converting to a private sector contract to operate the convention center was a bold experiment and AEG’s performance has exceeded our highest expectations," said Bud Ovrom, executive director of the Los Angeles Department of Convention & Tourism Development, which has management oversight of the AEG contract.

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