When the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the group that coordinates and presents E3, declined to announce the dates of the 2013 event at this year’s enormous gathering of developers, publishers and journalists, many speculated that the host city would be changing. A large construction project on the Los Angeles Convention Center planned to begin next year is proposed to tear down the building’s West Hall, with a replacement connecting the facility to the (also proposed) $1.1 Billion Farmer’s Field football stadium.
The demolition and construction of a new hall over Pico Boulevard is expected to cost the city $275 million and last through 2016. The new construction will benefit large conventions by having the two largest halls much closer to one another rather than on opposite sides of the enormous installation. Given the extent of the work, a move out of the city (at least for the time being) made sense. That’s why it came as a bit of a surprise when it was announced this morning that the decision had been made to keep the event in the City of Angels through 2015 and during the most severe of the renovations.
In an announcement today, the ESA shared the dates for next year’s E3 (June 11 – 13), to be held at the LA Convention Center and “a plethora of venues throughout downtown.” It’s that last part that’s alarming. As anyone who attended the show knows, appointments typically run long and, in an effort to see as much as possible, are stacked back to back. Having to run around the convention center between the different halls is one thing, but mapping out multiple venues (most of which will have to be accessed on foot) is likely to be a nightmare. Traffic is already extremely congested, and even though construction won’t be going on during the days E3 is taking place, it’s hard to imagine that its effects won’t be felt.
With the likely announcement of new consoles, next year is likely to be the most important the show has experienced since 2005. Unless the transportation and convenience issues are handled appropriately, a pall may be cast over the entire affair. With other cities rumored to have been under consideration, including San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans and New York, it’s hard to imagine that a venue under construction and developers and publishers spread to the winds at a “plethora” of locations is a better choice.