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LA City Council seeks private operator for Los Angeles Convention Center

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Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

Just five percent of events at the Los Angeles Convention attract visitors from outside the region. In top convention cities, that figure is closer to 35 percent, according to the city's budget analyst.

A recommendation to find a private operator for the Los Angeles Convention Center was approved Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council, despite some members’ misgivings on turning over management of the public asset.

Proposals will be due in the spring. City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana hopes to have a new governance and management structure in place by next July.

Los Angeles attracts trade shows and ceremonies, but is off the radar when it comes to large conventions. Only five percent of events at L.A.'s facility are major conventions that draw people from outside the region, Santana testified. In top convention cities such as Chicago and Orlando, that number is closer to 35 percent. 

About 11 percent of L.A.’s Convention Center attendees come here by airplane; in other cities the figure is six times that. That statistic is important, Santana said, because those are the visitors who stay in hotels and turn business trips into vacations, causing a financial ripple throughout the city.