Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles has begun laying the groundwork for a “Plan B” that would expand and renovate the city’s downtown convention center in the event the ambitious plan for a new football stadium next door falls through.
The leadership of the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) in April began making contacts with major architectural firms about creating designs for an upgraded center without the proposed stadium known as Farmers Field.
The city approved the $1.8 billion Farmers Field plan drafted and bankrolled by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) on the condition it gets a National Football League team to commit to play in the new stadium by October 18. Thus far, no existing teams have made such a commitment and the league is considered to be unlikely to grant Los Angeles an expansion franchise.
“The clock is ticking,” said Bud Ovrom, executive director of the LACC. “We will have a Plan B ready to go.”
A key part of the Farmers Field proposal is the planned expansion of the LACC, which would add not only new exhibit space to the center but would also have the stadium available for large events. In the process, the West Hall along Pico Blvd. would be razed to make way for the stadium. The 210,685 gross square feet space that will be lost will be replaced by a new hall located on the other side of the center.
Currently, the West Hall and South Hall are connected by a walkway over Pico. Under both Plan B and the stadium proposal, the walkway would be converted into a new exhibit hall, Ovrom told Trade Show Executive.
Securing financing for Plan B was not considered a significant obstacle. “We are in pretty good shape,” Ovrom said. “The West Hall is paid off and there are 10 years remaining on the South Hall bonds. But the advantage of the stadium plan is that AEG would pay everything.”
Show organizers have yet to book Farmers Field for events or overflow exhibit space because of the uncertainty over its completion date, Ovrom said. The stadium’s website has a 2017 target date for completion, but that would require the convention center phase to be completed before then and getting the elusive green light from the NFL.
Currently, the idea of Farmers Field being used for overflow exhibit space or to host a major trade show has not generated much enthusiasm among show organizers, Ovrom said. But he chalked it up to the fact that the stadium’s completion date remained uncertain and a few years down the road.
The more-immediate deadline is this Fall, and Ovrom and his team plan to be ready to move forward. “We want to hit the ground running October,” he said, “either with a football stadium or a Plan B.”
Reach Bud Ovrom at (213) 741-1151 or email@example.com