L.A.'s misguided push for more convention business

If city officials were paying attention they might realize that the convention business is not what it once was - certainly not worth spending the considerable time and money on the AEG-inspired football stadium/convention center complex. From Steven Malanga in City Journal:

For two decades, American cities have used public dollars to build convention center space--far more than demand warranted. The result has been a gigantic nationwide surplus of empty meeting facilities, struggling convention centers, and vacant hotel rooms (see "The Convention Center Shell Game," Spring 2004). Given the glut, you'd think that cities would stop. Instead, many are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to expand convention centers and open yet more dazzling hotels, arguing that whatever convention business remains will flow to the places with the fanciest amenities. If this dubious rationale proves wrong and the facilities fail--it's telling that the private sector won't build them on its own--taxpayers will wind up on the hook, as usual.

In 2010, conventions and meetings nationwide drew 86 million attendees, down from 126 million a decade earlier. Meanwhile, convention space has increased to 70 million square feet, up from 40 million 20 years ago. Greater supply and lesser demand - and second-tier L.A.insists on throwing good money after bad. Sigh.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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