It's been hinted at for more than a year, but now it's official: AEG is pitching a $1.2-billion expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The proposal, announced yesterday in the Los Angeles Times, calls for adding up to 350,000 square feet to the facility, raising its total capacity to 1.2 million square feet.  The $500-million project would give the Convention Center 800,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space by linking the existing west and south halls through a new structure that would hover over Pico Boulevards.

AEG has also proposed a separate $700-million expansion of the existing J.W. Marriott hotel at L.A. Live, which would replace a garage and event deck at Chick Hearn Court and Georgia Street with a 40-story, 850-room tower.  The new tower would connect to the existing J.W. Marriott hotel and the Convention Center's west hall through a series of pedestrian bridges, and also provide 51,000 square feet of additional meeting space.

AEG had previously sought to expand the J.W. Marriott onto a surface parking lot located north across Olympic Boulevard, with plans calling for an angular 38-story building.  That proposal was scuttled after the City announced an earlier plan for a Convention Center expansion, which has since been discarded.

Other elements of the Convention Center proposal include replacing a parking structure adjacent to the 110 Freeway with a larger 2,000-car garage, as well as a redesign of Gilbert Lindsay Plaza along Figueroa Street as a landscaped garden and event space.

According to the TImes, AEG's financing proposal for the hotel tower would rely on financial incentives similar to those provided to other Downtown hotel projects, including the original J.W. Marriott.  The City has allowed developers to keep a percentage of the transient occupancy tax generated by projects in order to facilitate the creation of new hotel rooms near the Convention Center.

For the Convention Center expansion, AEG and its partner Plenary Group have proposed private financing.  Plenary Group, which is branded as a developer and manager of public infrastructure, is a partner on the $520-million Civic Center redevelopment in Downtown Long Beach.

The Times reports that AEG hopes to use development rights secured for the unbuilt Farmers Field development could allow for an accelerated entitlement timeline for the project.  Approvals could be secured in 12-to-18 months, and construction could be completed as early as 2021.

The expansion, as well as an ongoing effort to boost the supply of nearby hotel rooms, is intended to make the Convention Center more competitive with rival facilities in San Diego, Anaheim, and San Francisco.