Which is probably what AEG honcho Tim Leiweke had been thinking would happen all along: Dangle the prospect of a rebuilt convention center, and city officials will go along with the football stadium. It's a cynical, but reasonable argument, as blogdowntown's Eric Richardson explains:
If you want to know why City Council seems so eager to see AEG's Farmers Field proposal work, there's one important number that you need to know: $859 million. That number, presented by Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller during a Wednesday night session on the stadium and events center proposal, is the swing in impact to the general fund that the city would see if it chose to turn down AEG's offer and instead do its own Convention Center renovation in the next ten years. According to Miller, the proposed $1.2-billion facility would net the city $210 million in "net new" tax revenues over 30 years once money that would be used to repay bonds on the new Convention Center hall is subtracted. On the other hand, if the city were to pass up the proposal, it would still need to look at a Convention Center modernization plan to make the outdated facility competitive in attracting the types of events that generate hotel room stays and visitor spending.
So if it's inevitable that the city will need to renovate the convention complex in the next few years, why not do it with the help of AEG? But the logic skips over a more fundamental question: What sort of payback would a new convention center really offer? Boosterism aside, L.A. is not an obvious convention city the way Vegas is - or even San Diego and NY. Nor is it ever likely to be, with or without a gussied-up center (why on earth would out-of-towners prefer staying downtown over Bev Hills or Santa Monica?) The more realistic argument is that a new facility - along with faux-attractions like L.A. Live - will at least keep the city from losing market share to other cities. But this is a complicated and expensive project, with all kinds of financial traps we probably haven't even detected. You have to wonder whether it's worth all the time, effort and political maneuvering for a goal that basically amounts to treading water. Aren't there less risky ways to raise tax revenues? As laid out in an LAT editorial:
But what if Los Angeles, even with a modern Convention Center, simply can't compete with San Diego's waterfront or Las Vegas' gambling or San Francisco's beauty? The council should ask how this set of estimates for the Convention Center is more solid than those it relied on when it built the existing facility, a decision that many of those involved with now regret.