E3, the video game industry's largest annual trade show, opened Monday in Los Angeles -- but it may relocate in 2013 if issues around the construction of the proposed Farmers Field and rebuilt convention center are not resolved "imminently," said Michael Gallagher, president of the Entertainment Software Assn.
The convention draws more than 45,000 attendees from around the world who fill an estimated 30,000 hotel rooms. It is among the city's most lucrative conferences, generating approximately $40 million in direct spending on such things as lodging, restaurants, taxis, temporary construction workers and hundreds of booth attendants during the four-day show, according to the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Entertainment Software Assn. last year put the city on notice when it balked at renewing its contract to stage E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center beyond 2012, citing uncertainties around the proposed remodel of the convention center to make way for Farmers Field. At the time, association officials expressed optimism that an agreement could be worked out because of the group's "strong, mutually productive relationship with Los Angeles."
Now, however, the tone appears less congenial.
"We're still in discussions with the city of Los Angeles," Gallagher said in an interview Sunday night, "but we have a number of issues that still need to be resolved. If we can't resolve them, we are preparing to go elsewhere."
He did not identify which cities his group has been negotiating with, though executives close to the association said San Francisco, New York, Chicago and New Orleans have been among the candidates. E3 has taken place in Los Angeles for 16 of the 18 years it has been in existence.
Among the group's concerns are ease of access to the convention center during any construction and guaranteed access to adequate show floor space. The proposed remodel of the convention center calls for West Hall to be demolished to make room for a stadium, with a replacement hall above Pico Boulevard that would sit adjacent to the current South Hall.
"We need assurances on things like square footage, the quality of the space, the ease of loading and unloading equipment, signage throughout the convention center for marketing and sponsorships," he said. "We love being in Los Angeles, but we also have a show to put on."