Thursday, April 07, 2005

downtown development briefing

Yesterday I attended a downtown development briefing at the Los Angeles Convention Center which outlined the plans for LA Live, the entertainment district near Staples Center. The event was hosted by the Los Angeles Convention and Tourists Bureau and the featured speaker was Anschutz Entertainment Group President & CEO, Timothy J. Leiweke.

Before he launched into his speech, Mr. Leiweke asked if anyone from the LA Times was in the audience. He said that it didn't matter to him if anyone from the Times was there, he usually asks that before he rips into them. He said that they never write anything good about what happens downtown anyway, but at least their bias was apparent - no hidden agendas there (I'm paraphrasing here). I was thinking that it doesn't matter if they were there because they either never get it right or they get part of it right about three weeks too late.

Although he was a very engaging and energetic speaker, I was looking around at the crowd while Tim spoke. It was a very conservative crowd. When I was at the SRL show this past Saturday, I saw some hipsters that I recognized from earlier in the week when I was hanging out at Cole's or from the other week when I was at The Smell. I knew I wouldn't be running into anyone from the SRL show or any Cole's regulars here.

I'll post more in the next few days about what went down at the briefing. I'm not being coy, there was a lot to cover and I spent most of the time scribbling furiously. I will say that there are dramatic plans in play to transform downtown into an insane destination, supposedly a mixed-use district comprised of 40% hospitality, 30% entertainment/retail, 20% residential and 10% office spaces.

He did say that the WrestleMania 21 event at the Staples Center pumped a lot of dollars into downtown Los Angeles. WrestleMania was the fastest-selling event ever, it sold out (12,500 tix) in 54 seconds. There were events scheduled all week, with overall spending totaling $10-15 million with each attendee spending an average of $30 in merchandise alone (not counting food, beverages, and tattoos).

Tim also went on to say that all the future plans for the sports and entertainment district around Staples Center do not involve one public dollar - all private investment. But the most important thing was that the networking reception that followed rocked. Can you say open bar? Now say sushi. Then say lamb. Shrimp. Now finish up with bananas foster and strawberries shot up with Grand Marnier and covered in white and dark chocolate. Now say open bar again. Actually you should interject it liberally between all that food like I did. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Bernard Parks was at the networking reception, working the room instead of the hot food stations like the rest of us were.

I'll post in more detail later, right now I need sleep.

Tom Jones and Celia right before they drank a case of champagne, ate steak & lobster, smoked some Macanudos and watched porn.

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