AEG Lights Up L.A.

The Los Angeles City Council has agreed to an exclusive signage deal with Anschutz Entertainment Group that could allow dozens of billboards and electronic displays on and around the city’s downtown Convention Center.

The facility is adjacent to the AEG-owned Staples Center and part of the massive L.A. Live sports and entertainment complex under development.

Under the agreement, approved September 10 on a 12-1 vote, AEG will initially pay the city $2 million per year, increasing by 3 percent per year for a decade, according to the Los Angeles Times.

AEG will also pay the city 25 percent of its first $5 million in net profits on the signs, 50 percent of the profits on the following $5 million and 75 percent of the profits on the next $5 million.

The city council will have to hold separate hearings on AEG’s detailed plans to add more than 50,000 square feet of signage to the outside of the city-owned Convention Center.

Included in the proposal are plans for a 75- by 66-foot sign and a 56- by 50-foot sign on the buildings’ signature glass towers that face a major downtown boulevard and four additional digital billboards. The entire complex borders the interchange of the Harbor and Hollywood freeways just west of the downtown core.

City Council members told the Times they were swayed by the potential revenue stream the deal affords at a time of economic downturn that has already forced budget cuts and fee increases. The lone dissenting councilman told the paper he was concerned the signage proposal wasn’t subjected to a competitive bidding process.

However, the city’s chief legislative analyst told the council AEG has exclusive rights to hang commercial signs on the Convention Center as part of its 1998 Staples Center lease.

While the plan might be financially beneficial to the city, it has its detractors. Architects involved with the 1993 redesign of the Convention Center argue that the signage undermines the building’s aesthetics, particularly of the transparent glass panels that may be covered with blinking electronic signs.

Others object that the city has undermined its own attempts to impose a moratorium on outdoor advertising in Los Angeles.

But councilwoman Janice Hahn told the Times the agreement will help invigorate the L.A. Live complex in the city’s South Park district and attract tourists and residents downtown.

Others favoring the proposal added that specific details regarding the size, location and features of the signs must still face review by the city planning commission and eventually return before the City Council for approval.