Los Angeles Convention Center just wrapped up its best year ever

Gamers play the new Nintendo Switch console at the Los Angeles Convention Center at the three-day Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.
(Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images)

As a hub for conventions, Los Angeles has had a big year.

The Los Angeles Convention Center reported an operating surplus of $10.2 million, a 5% increase from the previous year’s surplus of $9.7 million. It’s the biggest surplus since AEG took over management of the 46-year-old facility; before that December 2013 handover, the city operated the Convention Center, usually at a deficit.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the Convention Center hosted 33 large conventions, two more than during the previous 12-month period, and had an occupancy rate of 74%, compared with 72% in the previous 12-month period. Occupancy was 57% during the last full fiscal year that the city ran the center.

Doane Liu, the executive director of the Los Angeles Department of Convention and Tourism Development, attributed the improved numbers to the change in management practices instituted by AEG Facilities, the AEG subsidiary that runs the Convention Center. AEG has marketed the center more aggressively, increased revenue and reduced expenses.


He also noted that Los Angeles has become more popular as a tourist destination. L.A. County hosted a record 47.3 million visitors in 2016, a 4% increase over the previous year.

“We are benefiting from the hotness of Los Angeles,” he said. “People want to visit.”

Large conventions — events that book at least 3,000 hotel rooms — are the most profitable. Los Angeles hosted 33 such conventions during the 2016-17 fiscal year, including gatherings of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery and the American Assn. of Neurological Surgeons.

By total visitors, the three-day Electronic Entertainment Expo (known as E3) and the four-day Anime Expo are the biggest events of the year at the center. E3 drew 68,400 visitors this year and Anime brought in 107,658 fans of Japanese pop culture.


In the latest fiscal year, L.A.’s biggest rival, the Anaheim Convention Center, had a 72% occupancy rate.

The Anaheim Convention Center is bigger than the Los Angeles facility, with just under 1 million square feet of exhibit and meeting space, compared with 867,000 square feet at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Anaheim announced Wednesday that a 200,000-square-foot expansion that opens in September has already been booked for 75 meetings and conventions.

To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.

Get our weekly California Inc. newsletter