LA City Council Approves LA Center Convention Expansion Plans to Move Forward

La convention center

Already the entertainment capital of the world thanks to AEG, Crypto Arena, and LA Live, the downtown game board of hotels, eateries, happy hours, dance floors, sports bars, music, and comedy houses has long taken the prize away from Hollywood. No offense, Hollywood, but sorry, not sorry. 

On July 2nd, just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, the Los Angeles City Council approved the expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center. 

The L.A. Convention Center is getting a major upgrade! A brand new section will seamlessly connect the South and West Halls, creating a massive 190,000-square-foot contiguous exhibit space. The expansion also boasts 55,000 square feet of fresh meeting rooms and a versatile 95,000-square-foot multipurpose area. Gilbert Lindsay Plaza is getting a facelift, transforming into a lively outdoor venue with public space and city views.

The Council first approved a joint venture between AEG and The Plenary Group to complete the project before the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2013. In the following years, architects have been working to finalize design plans, schedule, and cover the proposed $1.4 million cost before construction starts in spring 2025.

The future looks bright.

Rendering of a redesigned Gilbert Lindsay Plaza at Pico and Figueroa – Courtesy Olin

The expansion of the LA Convention Center means larger events and even larger crowds, and a significantly enhanced experience for such crowds.

Let’s face it! Other than its enormous halls, rising escalators, and tall, white lobby pillars and glass ceiling reminiscent of a space station, what does the LAAC really have? Booths, meeting rooms, information booths, and a few concession stands—restrooms?

Compared to other convention centers around the country, the Downtown LA Convention Center is quite basic. With the expansion, all that changes in the next few months for the site, both inside and out.

Its expansion promises a series of new structures interwoven with state-of-the art smart technology, modern amenities, LED digital mastery, charging stations, and more to welcome in the new dynamic environment.

Totally cosmopolitan. Attendees will have access to breakout spaces with natural light, gathering hubs, and foliated outdoor areas with city views. These features will make the convention center more like a city within a city.

And right outside the new LAAC will be South Park’s Thriving Ecosystem:

Say goodbye to empty storefronts! Dozens of entrepreneurs will inevitably flood South Park taking advantage of the new frontier.

As Downtown’s already thriving hospitality scene awaits, this larger convention center will be able to schedule more events with more visitors.

A win-win for LA Live as ticket sales and concession revenue blow off the roof!
More convention attendees mean more hungry mouths to feed! And sleepy heads to rest at nearby hotels.

Downtown residents will see a more exciting atmosphere with a wider variety of dining and entertainment options. And a more interesting place to live. Oh, and get ready for improved public transportation, pedestrian walkways, and user-friendly environments. 

South Park BID President and CEO, Nolan Marshall III, issued the following statement:

“Modernizing and expanding our convention center is critical for all downtown businesses—those that have invested throughout our recovery and those that are considering investments in our neighborhood’s future.”

“The data makes it clear that nonlocal visitors have been critical to the sustained economic recovery of downtowns in North America and to the future of commercial real estate. Whether that be adaptive reuse as hospitality or ground-floor leases and activations, convention-based tourism is critical to a thriving downtown.”

“We will continue to stress that while the Olympics are an important target to aim for, having multiple city-wide conferences a month has a sustainable economic impact that will support the creation of new jobs and hotel rooms and provide a thriving and consistent environment for local businesses in 2028 and decades to come.”

Mayor Karen Bass issued the following statement after the City Council approved moving forward with plans to modernize and expand the Convention Center:

“We are continuing to move Los Angeles forward. I want to commend the City Council for taking this important step toward modernizing and expanding the Los Angeles Convention Center as we invest to revitalize downtown. This is more than just one building; we are laying the groundwork to attract tourists and business travelers, fill our restaurants and arenas, and support jobs in downtown and beyond.”

“Thank you to the City Council for their vision and leadership to invest in a public infrastructure project that is essential for L.A.’s future,” said Doane Liu, Chief Tourism Officer and Executive Director of the City Tourism Department. “

Adam Burke, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, stared:

“Citywide conventions support thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses across every L.A. region and neighborhood, and we’re grateful to the City Council for their leadership in advancing this pivotal initiative with today’s vote. As one of the travel industry’s premier meeting destinations, we look forward to seeing this world-class facility come to life.”

“Currently, the LACC hosts nearly 200 events and two million visitors annually,” said Kimberly Weedmark, General Manager of the LA Convention Center. “We’re excited that an upgraded facility will allow us to expand our event base with more top-tier programs and allow our current clients continued growth opportunities. 

The project will draw in over $165 million in visitor spending each year, and it will create 7,445 new jobs during construction and 2,147 jobs on an ongoing basis and is slated for completion in time for the 2028 Olympics.

May it be the clock is ticking… To be completed in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics, the project must commence by March 2025, according to city officials.

Author: Keri Freeman

Military mom and proud parent, artist, writer, musician and film maker. Cocktail connoisseur. Publisher of DTLA Weekly.