CCTA Buys Anaheim Six-Pack

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Lured by the enlarged convention center and the prospect of exhibitor tie-ins with new Disney restaurants and amusement destinations, the California Cable Television Association has committed to keep the Western Show in Anaheim through 2006.

"We like the campus-like quality. You can hang out in the lobby of the Hilton or the Marriott and watch the world go by," said CCTA vice president of industry affairs C.J. Hirshfield. "We love the fact there are more rooms there closer to the center."

The association had considered a shift to either San Diego or San Francisco. But in terms of exhibition square footage and nearby hotel capacity, those venues were deemed too small to house the industry's second-largest show. San Francisco has added to its Moscone Center, for example. But the annex is a block away from the main show floor, CCTA officials said.

Anaheim spent $150 million improving the convention center, expanding it to 1.5 million square feet, up 40 percent. A 4,000-seat ballroom and second-floor meeting rooms were added.

The show was held in Los Angeles the past two years during construction.

The convention area has become the site of Downtown Disney, a "shoppertainment" venue including the House of Blues, ESPN Sports Zone and other marquee restaurants. Soon, The Walt Disney Co. will also open its second theme park, the Disney California Resort. New hotels are opening to service the theme park but will also be available to conventioneers.

Exhibitors have long complained about the lack of quality restaurants in Anaheim, as well as a dearth of venues to stage parties. The Disney developments help mute those concerns.

New attractions could help stall an exodus of exhibitors. Along with trying to make the new resort developments available to attendees, the CCTA is "reinventing" sponsorship opportunities for companies that decline to exhibit but don't want to abandon the show completely.

CCTA president Spencer Kaitz will also be tasked with trying to get the CEOs from the top seven MSOs to attend.

Consolidation has trimmed the number of decision-makers in the industry, so if those remaining key executives stay away, it's harder for vendors to cut deals. As a result, several vendors will be participate at this November's Western Show without exhibiting.

They include Home Box Office, Playboy Entertainment Group Inc., Discovery Communications Inc., E! Entertainment Television, QVC, MTV Networks, Comedy Central and A&E Television Networks.

Convention planners are creating new opportunities for these vendors. But popular traditional marketing opportunities, such as sponsorship of hotel-room keycards, will go first to exhibitors.

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