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E3′s future up in the air

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E3 2012 (Reuters)

It's a tradition at the end of every E3: the Entertainment Software Association hangs a banner on the last day of the show, thanking attendees and simultaneously announcing the dates of next year's event.

But as people limped out of the Los Angeles Convention Center last Thursday, that banner was noticeably missing.

Why? Because currently, the ESA doesn't know exactly when the next E3 will be held. It's not even sure where.

At issue is the proposed construction of Farmers Field stadium, which would include a renovation of the convention center itself. ESA officials are worried the remodel -- which would eliminate one of the center's two main halls -- would result in insufficient space to put on the show.

"We're still in discussions with the city of Los Angeles, but we have a number of issues that still need to be resolved. If we can't resolve them, we are preparing to go elsewhere," said ESA president Michael Gallagher at a roundtable dinner last week.

Officials at the ESA say they still expect the show to be in Los Angeles, but are talking with other cities as a back up. The organization says it will announce the dates and host-city for the show in the "coming weeks."

As for this year's show, it was a big one, though it did boast slightly fewer people than last year. The ESA says 45,700 people attended the trade show last week, down about 1,100 from 2011. Those people filled up 30,000 total hotel room nights and generated nearly $40 million in revenue for the city.

E3 saw some 60,000 attendees at its peak in 2006, before the ESA decided that was too many people. E3 has called Los Angeles home for 16 of its 18 years, with a brief two-year journey to Atlanta in 1997-1998. Most industry officials would like to see it stay in LA, since they have large bases of operation there.

San Francisco, which hosts the Game Developer Conference, has also been discussed as a possible replacement venue, says the LA Times. New York, Chicago and New Orleans have also been approached, though their distance from the heart of the industry could work against them.

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