The Long Beach Arena could be getting some needed upgrades as ASM Global, the operator of the Convention Center and arena, is putting $7 million toward replacing decades-old seating and other improvements for the facility that’s scheduled to host Olympic events in five years.
The funding from ASM Global is part of its seven-year agreement the city approved in 2022 that required at least $7 million to be put into the facilities by ASM Global. If an optional three-year extension is exercised at the end of the seven years, ASM Global would have to contribute another $3 million to repairs.
Most of the money will go toward seating in the arena, which the city says will upgrade the 1960s-era seating and bring it up to date with industry standards. Just over $3 million is proposed to be spent on retractable seating that would replace the arena’s current riser system, which required the riser to be put in place and arena crew members to manually set up heavy, movable seats on it.
Another $2.5 million is proposed to be spent on replacing the fixed seating in the arena. A city memo said that about 30% of the currently fixed seats are taken out of service because they’re in disrepair, which results in potential lost revenue.
“Quite frankly, the condition of the seating does not meet the standard or expectation of promoters or their guests,” Johnny Vallejo, a business operations manager for the city’s Economic Development Department told the City Council on Tuesday.
The new padded seats would include cup holders and would meet the standards for more shows and promoters. About 10,200 total seats could be upgraded through the proposed fixes.
Roughly $1.4 million is being proposed for improvements to the stage and sound systems inside the arena as well as purchasing upgraded folding chairs.
Long Beach has been tapped for multiple Olympic events in 2028, and the arena is scheduled to host handball while the “Elephant Lot” will host BMX and water polo competitions, according to the Olympics website.
The $7 million is a fraction of the repairs that are needed in the arena and convention center, which has needed large structural upgrades to things like the air conditioning system, its roof and flooring for some time.
Part of the city’s five-year “Elevate 28” budget proposal unveiled earlier this month includes the potential for the city to spend an additional $52 million on facility upgrades, which could require the city to issue bonds.
In Mayor Rex Richardson’s budget message, he suggested the city begin a 10-year vision plan for the site to see how the city could speed up the development of the “Elephant Lot” that the Convention Center uses for parking and other events.
The plan also calls for exploring rearranging the space, which city officials said could include tearing down and rebuilding the arena or convention center in the future to allow for a more suitable layout for any developments on the Elephant Lot, like a sports stadium.