Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson and other city officials gathered for an open house on July 20 to celebrate 25 years of Jehovah’s Witnesses hosting annual conventions at the Long Beach Arena. The event featured videos, testimonials, and other memorabilia highlighting the history and future of the partnership.
“Long Beach is thankful to Jehovah’s Witnesses for choosing us for their annual convention for more than 25 years,” Richardson said. “We look forward to continuing this tradition and this long-standing relationship with the city of Long Beach and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are part of the fabric of our city, and We join them in celebrating their presence here in Long Beach.”
For the past 25 years, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the City of Long Beach partnered to complete three major improvement projects on the Arena in exchange for a waiver of rental fees. Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses volunteered their professional time and skills to complete major upgrades to the building, improving the venue experience for all event hosts and attendees.
These improvements included new locker rooms and a ventilation system for the newly acquired Ice Dogs hockey team in 1995 and a full remodel of the Arena’s restaurant and bar in 1996. Work completed in 2001 included new bathrooms. a new sound system, a remodel of all the meeting rooms, and the installation of 19,000 yards of new carpet (equivalent to three football fields).
In 2013, 650,000 square feet of asphalt was poured to repave the Arena and Convention Center parking areas and UV film was installed on all the three-stop, glass stairwells, improving safety and temperature regulation.
Jehovah’s Witnesses found their way to Long Beach for annual conventions in mid-1995. The group was looking to relocate annual summer conventions from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to an indoor venue that would provide a more comfortable environment.
After conducting an extensive search, Jehovah’s Witnesses selected the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center in 1995. That first summer, the Witnesses booked full weekends. Since then, except for a three-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been held every year in Long Beach, drawing in a total of more than 3 million attendees from all over the world and generating over $l billion in revenue for the city.