Honing his narrative Thursday for the big battles that await in the months ahead, super-salesman Tim Leiweke — the shining star of LA’s civic-business-political culture of the last decade — offered the city a deal so fantastically sweet that it seems pointless to even bothered with a public debate.
An NFL team back in LA by 2012, a spectacular stadium with a retractable roof by 2015, three Super Bowls in 10 years, the World Cup in 2022, a giant new Convention Center that will bring millions of visitors to town, billions in new tourism dollars, five new luxury hotels, 25,000 new jobs and a revitalized downtown that will make us all proud.
And not one red cent in public money.AEG will put up all the money and pay all the bills. You can take Leiweke’s word for it.
Despite fighting a cold, Leiweke held a small Town Hall Los Angeles crowd Thursday at the Millennium Biltmore spellbound as he spun a seamless tale of government that’s useless, a mayor that’s powerless and how entrepreneurs like AEG’s Phil Anschutz perform economic miracles with sports and entertainment venues on five continents.
Leiweke’s sales pitch captured exactly the headlines he wanted. “Tim Leiweke says L.A. stadium could be ready for 2016 Super Bowl,” said the LA Times. “AEG executive says a stadium in L.A. would be super,” said the Daily News.
There are a few problems to overcome — not the least of which is that there has been no sign of a groundswell of popular demand for an NFL team in the 16 years since public apathy and political in-fighting chased away the Rams and Raiders and that former partner Ed Roski has a shovel-ready stadium set to break ground in the City of Industry..
But Leiweke already is negotiating a deal with Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller and will have City Hall on board by January, then he’ll get the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to exempt him from environmental laws and start the process of getting all the entitlements needed even as he turns a loose concept into concrete and steel plans.
The concept is to tear down the old West Hall of the Convention Center and parking lot and double the size of the I.M. Pei new hall to more than one million square feet, which would put LA at the top of the list for big conventions..
The 78,000-seat stadium — a wonder of environmental sensitivity — would double as an “events center” as part of the Convention Center complex.
AEG doesn’t even plan to build much new parking because the light rail station near Staples will be rebuilt to meet the new stadium’s needs and street cars will be running along downtown streets to connect fans to the stadium from the region’s expanded 30-10 subway and rail system.
All this can happen with $1 billion from AEG and $300 million in city bonds for the Convention Center that AEG will guarantee if soaring revenue from conventions fall short.
Needless to say, Leiweke skipped over the tough questions about public transit construction costs, about AEG keeping all the sources of various tax revenues and the profits from running the convention center.
But it doesn’t matter. The downtown business and City Hall political forces that have done such a good job for so long of looking after themselves at the expense of the rest of the city are already all aboard this plan to provide a playground for corporate America and the rich foks Leiweke talked about who live in beach communities and the Westside who will spend fortunes for luxury boxes and make the whole project a gold mine.
There wasn’t a word about what how this benefits the rest of the city’s four million people beyond the pride and joy of having a football team.
If you want to be informed and involved in the public debate that’s coming, you need to start by hearing Leiweke’s pitch for yourselves in these eight video segments. I’m sure you will be as convinced as I am that this is a deal too good to be true.