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Biggest Drawback Is Location, Location

Putting Their Best Feet Forward: While Las Vegas grabs an increasing share of convention and trade show dollars, other cities aren't standing still. A look at what several of them are doing to attract business.

September 23, 2003|Jerry Hirsch | Los Angeles Times

The glamour of Hollywood, five regional airports and Rodeo Drive should be enough to make Los Angeles a top-tier destination for conventions and trade shows. But the City of Angels just isn't a significant factor in the business.

Los Angeles didn't even make the list of top 16 North American cities for business meetings compiled by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, even though the city is the nation's second-largest metropolis.

The problem with the nearly 900,000-square-foot Los Angeles Convention Center, meeting planners say, is that it is surrounded by parking lots -- no fewer than 6,000 spaces in all -- rather than by hotel rooms, movie theaters, restaurants and other nightspots.

The word in tourism circles is that if you want to have fun in Southern California, don't go anywhere near the convention center or downtown Los Angeles -- unless you are going to a basketball or hockey game at Staples Center.

Seven meetings booked for the convention center in the next six years have been yanked since April, according to local tourism officials.

What would turn it around? A 1,000- to 1,200-room hotel adjacent to the convention center and an entertainment district with shopping and dining, said Michael Collins, executive vice president of the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau.

But so far both the public sector and private investors have failed to put the money into such a project. And with municipal budgets tight and a slow economy in the Golden State, there's little chance that anyone will break ground on such a project anytime soon.

-- Jerry Hirsch

Los Angeles Times

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Nation's largest convention facilities

*--* Rank Venue Location Space* 1. McCormick Place Chicago 2,200,000 2. Orange County Convention Center Orlando, Fla. 2,053,820 3. Las Vegas Convention Center Las Vegas 1,984,755 4. Georgia World Congress Center Atlanta 1,370,000 5. Reliant Park ** Houston 1,283,213 6. Sands Expo & Convention Center/ Las Vegas 1,125,600 Venetian Resort Hotel Casino 7. Ernest N. Morial Convention Center New Orleans 1,100,000 8. Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center Louisville, Ky. 1,068,050 9. Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Las Vegas 1,041,649 10. Dallas Convention Center Dallas 1,018,852 11. International Exposition Center Cleveland 902,000 12. Donald E. Stephens Convention Rosemont, Ill. 845,000 Center 13. Anaheim Convention Center Anaheim 815,000 14. Jacob K. Javits Convention Center New York 814,400 of New York 15. Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex Harrisburg, Pa. 751,100 16. Washington Convention Center*** Washington, D.C. 725,000 17. Los Angeles Convention Center Los Angeles 720,000

*--*

Source: Tradeshow Week

Los Angeles Times

*Ranked by total square feet of current exhibition space.

** Includes Reliant Arena, Reliant Astrodome, Reliant Center and Reliant Stadium

*** To be completed in March

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