Mid-December saw the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approve a plan titled Convention Center Expansion and Modernization Project, which would increase the size of the center by 45 percent while modernizing all existing spaces in the building.
According to this article, the project will add a new 700,000-square-foot building. that connects the existing South and West halls. The new hall will have 193,000 square feet of exhibit space, 60,000 square feet of meeting rooms, a 98,000-square-foot top-floor multi-purpose hall, a 10,000-square-foot outdoor terrace with downtown views (image here), and its own atrium entrance and lobby.
Further, the plan provides a full refresh of the existing Concourse Building and South Hall, with a connection to the new hall. The improvements include a new West Hall lobby entrance at Chick Hearn Court that’s adjacent to the JW Marriott Hotel, plus a renovation of Gilbert Lindsay Plaza next door.
Also in the works is a digital-signage standardization program, which establishes a uniform experience between the convention center, L.A. Live, and the adjacent hotel and entertainment offerings, which enhances the visitor experience along with event-sponsorship opportunities.
The project requires Mayor Karen Bass' approval. However, this article notes that a debate is happening within the city council about when it would be best to start and finish the project, and how much the city should rely on private-sector partners—center-management firm AEG and infrastructure investor Plenary Group—and their expansion ideas.
According to the Urbanize article, city officials believe the expansion would need to be completed at least nine months ahead of the July 2028 Summer Olympics, leaving a tight margin for a project with a construction timeline of about 28 months.
That timeline would be even more difficult to meet if the city goes ahead without AEG and Plenary Group as the project’s private-sector partners. Without the partnership, the estimated cost to the city for the plan is $4.8 billion, while partnering with the two companies would raise the cost to an estimated $6.5 billion but likely bring a greater return over a 20-year projected timeline.
The Los Angeles Convention and Tourism Department notes that Los Angeles has the 22nd-largest convention facility in the U.S., which is disproportionately small for the country’s second-largest city. Also, convention competitors San Francisco, Anaheim, and San Diego have recently updated their facilities.
To be completed in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics, the project must commence by March 2025, according to city officials. The city council’s decision on that is likely to come in early 2024.