The top budget official at Los Angeles City Hall recommended Tuesday that Anschutz Entertainment Group run the city's Convention Center, despite objections from one of the facility's employee unions.
In a one-paragraph memo to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said AEG -- one of two companies that had sought to manage the facility -- had submitted a cost-effective proposal that would deliver a "unique experience" to convention center visitors. Santana said his recommendation was based on an analysis from an independent panel that reviewed both proposals.
Santana's recommendation drew criticism from Service Employees International Union Local 721, which represents convention center workers. David Sanders, the union's regional director, said the city should not "hand over control of its most valuable publicly owned assets to unaccountable private corporations."
"This isn’t about AEG, which has done so much for L.A.," he said. "It’s about doing what’s best for the city. And we think that if the council steps back and evaluates its options, it will see that privatization isn’t the only way."
A City Council vote on AEG is expected within a month. AEG's major properties in downtown Los Angeles -- Staples Center and the L.A. Live entertainment complex -- are near the convention center.
AEG was threatened with disqualification from the Convention Center search process earlier this year, after failing to provide the necessary financial documents as part of its application. Company executives fought back, saying the city's request for information had been unclear.
The council responded by allowing the search to continue with AEG and its lone competitor, SMG, in the running.
AEG President Dan Beckerman said he was thrilled with the announcement, saying his company looks forward to increasing bookings at the convention center.
“This opportunity is of the highest importance to AEG and we are committed to dedicating the time and resources needed to bring the biggest and most important conventions to Los Angeles,” he said in a statement.
City Hall lobbyist Harvey Englander, who represents SMG, had no comment on Santana's memo.
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