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E3 Stays In LA

The City of Angels will play host to its "largest annual conference" through 2015 - with a twist.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: July 30, 2012
The Electronic Software Association, the governing body that oversees and puts on the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (better known to most as simply E3) has had something of a rocky relationship with the city of Los Angeles. Back in 2007, after the biggest exhibitors all pulled out of the show due to rising costs and competitions on who could drown out the other booths with the most noise, light and gigantic breast implants (not that we mind the latter, exactly), the show morphed into the 2008 E3 Media & Business Summit. A smattering of beach side venues and a ghost town of a hangar that forced those covering it to spend almost as much time running between Santa Monica hotels as actually attending press conferences and meetings in them, E3 2008 is seen as something of a low-point experiment.

Worse, it came off as a slap in the face to the city itself, which had negotiated, much as they've just done, to keep the convention in LA proper rather than competing Santa Monica or another city. When all was said and done, the ESA was looking at some hefty penalties for moving the show away prematurely, and preparations to move things back the following year were quickly mode.

By 2009, E3 had ostensibly returned to the way it was, albeit with a slightly less spectacle-focused bent. Even that has largely returned to the old-expensive ways, necessitating that many booths are re-used with alterations from year to year to avoid the cost of designing and building a new booth, some of which cost tens of millions in total for the bigger publishers. Publishers were stuck back in the cycle, but the legal wrangling that went on between the city of Los Angeles and the ESA meant E3 was simply locked into the LA Convention Center until its contract was up.

Or, as it turns out, a significant portion of the LACC was being ripped apart to make room for yet more sports venues as the adjacent Staples Center and LA Live areas encroached on the aging convention center. With the logistical reality of trying to cram an already packed show into an even smaller space, the ESA started to entertain pitches (not to mention pitched themselves) in other cities. New York, New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco had all expressed interest, and frankly the TPS office was abuzz with the idea that we'd be able to tackle the biggest show in gaming with the ease of a Game Developers Conference should E3 move here to San Fran.

Alas, that was not to be. In an exuberant set of statements, the ESA and the City of Los Angeles made it plain E3 wasn't changing cities, but it is stretching its legs, expanding from the Convention Center, nearby LA Live and "a plethora of venues throughout downtown Los Angeles and the City." The comparisons to E3 2008 were almost instant, but the parties involved don't seem to be showing much in the way of regret.

"We are proud to partner with Los Angeles for another three years. The City serves as a strong backdrop for the video game industry’s biggest announcements and we look forward to remaining in LA," explains ESA CEO Michael D. Gallagher. "Video games are a dominant force in the global entertainment marketplace and there is no better place to display that than Los Angeles. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the City and AEG.

"ESA supports AEG’s mission and vision for downtown Los Angeles and the areas surrounding the Los Angeles Convention Center," Gallagher adds. "We appreciate AEG’s willingness to work in partnership with our organization to not only create a construction schedule to accommodate the needs of our guests but also their commitment to incorporate many of our suggestions into the design of the new venues. These resulting upgrades to the facility will truly benefit all conventions and further establish Los Angeles as industry leaders. We are glad we could come to an agreement that keeps E3 in its traditional home."

"ESA’s commitment to remain in Los Angeles is a critical endorsement of Los Angeles as one of the nation’s most important convention destinations," quickly boasted Timothy J. Leiweke, president & CEO at AEG, the worldwide megacorp that oversees the nearby Staples Center and LA Live. "Working with ESA to provide the confidence in scheduling they have requested has truly been a collaborative effort. We are also grateful to ESA for their thoughtful input into the design plans which will result in the most efficient and modern facilities that will not only benefit E3 but all of the new conventions that will come to Los Angeles. On behalf of our City and AEG, thank you ESA, we won’t let you down."

"The City of Los Angeles is thrilled to welcome E3 back for another three years," adds Antonio Villaraigosa, LA's Mayor. "My office was committed to doing whatever it took to keep the largest annual conference that the City hosts here for another three years. I personally joined in the negotiations, and we worked with all parties to ensure the needs of E3 would be met. The City is grateful the Entertainment Software Association continues to view LA, the entertainment capital of the world, as the ideal location for the world's premiere video game convention."

If the comments from the City and AEG seem a little... grateful, that's likely because E3 is a big deal for the city; E3 2012 helped rake in $40 million for LA, coughed up from the coffers of 45,700 attendees pooled from more than a hundred countries, making E3 the single biggest convention draw on an annual basis the city sees. In short, it's about money. Lots of money. LA didn't want to lose out on that just because they were tearing apart the Convention Center in the hopes of making more money, and thus a new, more decentralized E3 was born yet again, and will descend upon the City of Angels June 11th-13th next year. We'll be there, of course, to offer our take on the announcement of new hardware and plenty of next-gen games.