ESA Releases E3 2012 Numbers, Doesn’t Confirm LA Return In ’13
Attendance at E3 2012 was down slightly from 2011′s show, but it’s still an impressive number of dorks converging on Downtown Los Angeles. The Electronic Software Association, sponsors of the annual event, have revealed their estimates that 45,700 people – journalists and industry reps alike – made it to this year’s show. That’s slightly less than 2011′s 46,800, which was the biggest since 2006, but it’s still a lot of people, and they pumped a lot of money into the Los Angeles economy, 40 million by the ESA’s estimate, nearly double the amount spent in 2011. It’s apt demonstration that people still see E3 as a big deal, even if this year’s event did seem to be defined by the 7th generation’s dotage. (We’ll have our own take on the event later this week. Spoiler alert: PC wins).
There’s just one thing: at this time last year, the ESA had already confirmed that E3 2012 would be returning to Los Angeles. As of right now, no such confirmation for 2013 has been made. The ESA is only saying that they’ll be announcing the venus and dates for next year’s show ‘soon.’ That’s because the ESA and the City of Los Angeles are in the middle of a spat over LA’s plans to construct a new sports and events stadium – Farmers Field Stadium – in Downtown. That stadium, intended to pave the way for professional football to return to the city for the first time since the Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995. (It’s also suggested as a venue for local college games and the Super Bowl).
The problem is that the proposed construction site would require the demolition of the Los Angeles convention center’s West Hall, reducing the convention’s floor space in half. That’s a big dealbreaker for the ESA, who fears that such a drastic reduction could cripple E3. ESA president Michael Gallagher said in a statement that “We need assurances on things like square footage, the quality of the space, the ease of loading and unloading equipment, signage throughout the convention center for marketing and sponsorships. We love being in Los Angeles, but we also have a show to put on.”
They have a point, and since the new stadium might begin construction in March, 2013, it might make E3 unworkable. The ESA is apparently considering San Francisco as a possible alternate location, though they have not publicly declared any such candidates. We expect they will laugh gleefully as potential cities woo them with tax breaks and subsidies. IN the meantime, while LA arguably needs a new stadium, it doesn’t actually have a deal to bring football back. It seems odd that a guaranteed haul like 40 million would mean less than potential money brought in by a stadium still years away from opening. Presumably, the city is furiously interested in keeping E3 in LA, and the release of these numbers (along with their economic impact) is the ESA’s way of forcing the issue. We shall see.
Personally, since I live in LA I would very much like to see it stay here, but then, I could care less about bringing football back.