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While no one can argue the Electronics Entertainment Expo is usually a hugely successful event for the gaming industry, a lot of behind-the-scenes circumstances may push the show outside of Los Angeles. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), E3 2012 pulled in about 45,700 “video game industry professionals, investor analysts, journalists, and retailers from 103 countries” this week, coming in slightly behind E3 2011’s 46,800 attendee count from last year.

Since changing E3 back to the larger “all access” format at E3 2009 following two disastrous “invite only” years, E3 has maintained an upward swing in attendance during the last half-decade. Here’s a look at the numbers from the previous six shows:

  • E3 2007 (invite only; Santa Monica) — 10,000
  • E3 2008 (invite only; LAC Center) — 5,000
  • E3 2009 (open to public; LAC Center) — 41,000
  • E3 2010 (open to public; LAC Center) — 45,600
  • E3 2011 (open to public; LAC Center) — 46,800
  • E3 2012 (open to public; LAC Center) — 45,700

Not a huge change, but the trend is clearly flatlining instead of growing.

While a slight 2-percent dip in attendance isn’t alarming in the least, it’s interesting to note that the E3 Expo hasn’t come close to regaining the 60,000-70,000 range it had in 2005 and 2006. Combined with issues about LA’s incoming construction of the Farmer’s Field Stadium that would effectively shut down the entire West Hall, it’s entirely possible that E3 2013 won’t even be in Los Angeles next year:

The Entertainment Software Assn. last year put the city on notice when it balked at renewing its contract to stage E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center beyond 2012, citing uncertainties around the proposed remodel of the convention center to make way for Farmers Field. At the time, association officials expressed optimism that an agreement could be worked out because of the group’s “strong, mutually productive relationship with Los Angeles.”

Now, however, the tone appears less congenial.

“We’re still in discussions with the city of Los Angeles,” [ESA president Michael Gallagher] said in an interview Sunday night, “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.”

He did not identify which cities his group has been negotiating with, though executives close to the association said San Francisco, New York, Chicago and New Orleans have been among the candidates. E3 has taken place in Los Angeles for 16 of the 18 years it has been in existence.

If E3 moving out of Los Angeles is really on the table, Chicago would seem to the most attractive choice as it hosts McCormick Place, the largest convention center in the entire United States. Going from 720,000 square feet to 2,670,000 would certainly boost attendance numbers, although the city of Los Angeles would take a dramatic hit in associated revenue.

Source: E3 Expo