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Antonio’s Dirty Little Secret: The Downtown NFL Stadium Conspiracy

As long as nearly two years ago, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his staff conspired with AEG’s Tim Leiweke and Casey Wasserman and others to conceal plans to build an NFL Stadium in downtown LA.
A secret memo obtained Wednesday (NFL-Antonio.pdf) from then Deputy Mayor Bud Ovrom, now general manager of Building and Safety, to the mayor outlined plans on March 23, 2009, to tear down the West Hall of the Convention Center and erect a stadium for up to 75,000 NFL fans.
Architect, Michael Palladino, of Richard Meier Partners, designers of the Getty Center and other major projects around the world, already had researched the site and determined that the stadium could be built in the tight space near AEG’s Staples Center adjacent to the 110 Freeway and Figueroa, from Pico to Chick Hearn 
Way, 
“With the threshold question of whether or not it would fit now answered, Wasserman and Palladino would like to come in to meet with you next week to discuss the concept and to see if this is something you would want to pursue,” Ovrom wrote. 
“It is important to keep this idea confidential, because there are a lot of other issues which would still need to be studied. If word got out that we were even -thinking about the possibility of demolishing West Hall, it would hurt future bookings (which are already struggling).”
More than a year after the memo, a short story was leaked to the Times that according to “sources,” Wasserman and Leiweke were in the preliminary stages of looking at the possibility of building a stadium on the Convention Center site.

The story contained no mention of the mayor’s role or that a
campaign was being orchestrated out of City Hall to demolish the West
Hall and turn over operation of the Convention Center to these private
interests.   
It wasn’t until nearly six months
later that Leiweke publicly began to sell the stadium plan at a series
of carefully staged events before business leaders.

At no time
has the mayor or other city officials acknowledged any involvement in
the plan for the stadium although Leiweke has only given them until this
coming March to approve the deal.

It was only last month that he showed three crude designs for how the stadium might look.
Just
a few months before the memo to the mayor, Leiweke had joined with Ed
Roski, AEG’s partner in the Staples Center, in promoting the plan by
Roski’s Majestic Realty to build an NFL stadium in the City of Industry
– a deal he quickly betrayed by joining with Wasserman in the scheme
for a downtown stadium and the hiring of Paladino to see if it was
feasible.
All along, Leiweke has insisted he
can build the downtown stadium with a retractable roof for $1 billion
without public financing, and have it serve as an extension of the
Convention Center.
That’s half the cost of new
stadiums in the Dallas and New York suburbs, and about one-third the
cost estimates that others have put on his plans.
Critics
have warned the city faces paying off $500 million in debt on the
Convention Centers and that AEG would require a deal giving it all tax
revenue from tickets, parking and other resources to make the numbers
work out.
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22 Responses to Antonio’s Dirty Little Secret: The Downtown NFL Stadium Conspiracy

  1. Jack Humphreville says:

    March of 2009!

  2. Anonymous says:

    And, just what will Antonio’s legacy be to the City of Los Angeles? A football stadium that will rip-off the taxpayers? Who else is going to pay for it once Jerry Brown finishes with his tax cuts to the city and county?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Exactly, Jack, March of 2009! But nooo, Walter Moore wasn’t good enough, the idiots in this city re-elected Villar. I hope this stadium will get built & will push the city into bankruptcy. I’m sick & tired of all these brainwashed moronic voters and wish them luck with Villar and after he’s gone but they’ll paying through their noses.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The over concentration of wealth in Los Angeles will lead to another round of riots. Ground zero will be the wretched and tacky excess of LA Live, Staples and the NFL stadium. I guess it makes sense to pile one gross piece of shit on top of another.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The L.A. Times piece (April 2010) was more than a year after the memo to the mayor (March 2009).

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hasn’t this City and the taxpayers already given dumb ass Lieweke and AEG enough of a free pass when he build LA Live? ENOUGH ALREADY!!!! The NFL stadium shouldn’t be built downtown but in the City of Industry where there’s more open space. I find it odd Jan Perry the poster girl for AEG is staying silent on this issue. The corruption in City Hall continues as every day work

  7. Sandy Sand says:

    Didn’t anyone learn a history-repeating lesson from GHWB infamous “Read my lips, no new taxes”?
    I just laughed when I heard Lieweke say an NFL stadium wouldn’t cost tax payers a dime.
    True, It won’t cost us a “dime,” it will cost us millions if not billions.

  8. Tornadoes28 says:

    LA Live is paying back LA in folds you fools. If it wasn’t for AEG and LA Live, the LA Convention Center would continues to bleed the LA City budget dry. Get that through your heads before criticizing AEG and Lieweke. The stadium will do the same as what LA Live has done you pinheaded complainers. It will bring MORE conventions to LA and MORE revenue and tax income to LA.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It is AEG and the money it has sucked out of the City that is a forewarning of how much it will continue to bleed the city dry. Besides the millions they got in subsidies, they pay no hotel taxes.

  10. Bob G says:

    Roger Noll did pioneering studies on the economics of professional sports teams back in the 1970s. He showed that the presence of sports teams — particularly professional football — had essentially no effect on the local economies. Part of this non-effect was due to the costs of building stadiums using public bond money. The bonds have to be paid off, which means that the local government starts in the hole and continues to dig itself deeper over the next thirty years. The tax revenues on ticket sales, parking, and hot dogs are relatively low, and the total amount of employment over the course of an entire year is relatively low because there are only so many games, and being an usher or a souvenir seller is not a high income profession.
    The number of games has increased a bit over the years, and the prices of beer and hot dogs have skyrocketed, but the costs of building NFL stadiums have skyrocketed even higher. There is something a little offensive about the idea that professional football can only be played in a stadium that (a) has enclosed luxury boxes to provide amenities to the very rich and to corporations that can foot the bill and (b) are highly subsidized by the taxpayers.
    If it were just a matter of playing football, the Los Angeles area already has 2 stadiums that are just fine. In fact, both of them have hosted a Superbowl — the Coliseum hosted the very first one, and the Rose Bowl hosted another.
    But in the modern day corporatocracy, only a Taj Ma Dallas is considered good enough.
    My objection to the downtown stadium proposal is twofold: First, it is likely that some sort of public subsidy would be required, even if it is a little camoflaged. Second, it would result in several more days of freeway gridlock in an area that is already bad enough.
    It’s curious how soon we forget the history of pro football in Los Angeles. The Cleveland – Los Angeles – St Louis Rams were here for a while. Then the Oakland – Los Angeles – Oakland Raiders were here for a while. For some reason, Los Angeles area residents didn’t need the presence of a pro football team in order to make them feel good about themselves. We don’t seem to get off on wearing large slices of cheese on our heads, and we didn’t seem to be into the intense rivalries that you see between a Pittsburg and a Cleveland, for example. We seem to see it as just one more form of entertainment that competes with going to the beach, mowing the lawn, or going to Vegas.
    What’s hilarious is that other cities found to their chagrin that their inhabitants held similar views. Oakland and San Diego have had trouble selling out their seats in some years, and when this happens, the team ownership inevitably finds some clause in the contract that allows them to extract something more from the host city.
    We’re better off without them. If the city of Industry wants to take on these issues, let it. But Los Angeles should continue in its pioneering policy that we don’t offer government subsidies to new stadiums. We already have the Coliseum, and it has worked pretty well.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “Second, it would result in several more days of freeway gridlock in an area that is already bad enough.”
    You really think traffic would be worse if the project was built in downtown rather than City of Industry? Downtown is already served by many different freeways and public transportation options. Parking fees would encourage fans to take public transportation or at least carpool. Of course traffic would be worse in the immediate area, but city and countywide traffic would be better than having to accommodate the same number of fans, all coming by car a much further distance, since nobody lives in the City of Industry.
    I don’t understand why people in LA are so stupid when it comes to density. The only way to keep traffic under control is to INCREASE density, so that everyone doesn’t have to drive everywhere. Why is it that LA is so much less dense than any real city (e.g. San Francisco, New York, Chicago), but much, much, worse to commute in? Because everything is so far apart that everyone has to drive everywhere! Not to mention the city looks like a total dump compared to any of the real cities mentioned; just surface parking and strip malls as far as the eye can see.

  12. Anonymous says:

    “Second, it would result in several more days of freeway gridlock in an area that is already bad enough.”
    You really think traffic would be worse if the project was built in downtown rather than City of Industry? Downtown is already served by many different freeways and public transportation options. Parking fees would encourage fans to take public transportation or at least carpool. Of course traffic would be worse in the immediate area, but city and countywide traffic would be better than having to accommodate the same number of fans, all coming by car a much further distance, since nobody lives in the City of Industry.
    I don’t understand why people in LA are so stupid when it comes to density. The only way to keep traffic under control is to INCREASE density, so that everyone doesn’t have to drive everywhere. Why is it that LA is so much less dense than any real city (e.g. San Francisco, New York, Chicago), but much, much, worse to commute in? Because everything is so far apart that everyone has to drive everywhere! Not to mention the city looks like a total dump compared to any of the real cities mentioned; just surface parking and strip malls as far as the eye can see.

  13. Anonymous says:

    “I don’t understand why people in LA are so stupid when it comes to density. The only way to keep traffic under control is to INCREASE density, so that everyone doesn’t have to drive everywhere”. Just where did you pick up this idiotic planning theory akin to “Greed is good”. The more we build, the lesser the traffic. Love it! The more we shop, the better the economy! The more we pay for high-priced housing, quicker the rebound. Could go on….along these lines.

  14. Anonymous says:

    People in LA are not “stupid about density.” You are calling for something that is just not feasible given just what was also aknowledged – that LA is so spread apart. That isn’t going to change. No matter how many people are stuffed into the little open space we now have or into taller buildings. Further, LA will always differ from the “great” cities of yesterday (and consider this carefully) who invested in subways in anticipation of a growing population. Given the fact that our country, state and city is verging on bankruptcy, it’s absurd to continue using infill density as the means to solve our transportation problems since there won’t be the funds to pay for it all. Actually, the rising cost of gasoline will probably do more for easing traffic congestion than most realize.
    The history of LA shows how the rubber, concrete and oil industries conspired to ensure that the auto was king for local transportation anticipating that LA LA Land was here to stay and they encouraged its sprawl pattern.
    Further, LA was built on a neighborhood/community based model, i.e., which also can’t be altered given the fact that many of the Neighborhood Councils and other community based groups are fighting to hold onto what makes their neighborhoods unique.
    Like Ron implies in so many times, “it’s judgment day, folks.” And, which side do you want to be on? The victim or part of the leadership of a new and improved LosAngeles?

  15. Anonymous says:

    People in LA are not “stupid about density.” You are calling for something that is just not feasible given just what was also aknowledged – that LA is so spread apart. That isn’t going to change. No matter how many people are stuffed into the little open space we now have or into taller buildings. Further, LA will always differ from the “great” cities of yesterday (and consider this carefully) who invested in subways in anticipation of a growing population. Given the fact that our country, state and city is verging on bankruptcy, it’s absurd to continue using infill density as the means to solve our transportation problems since there won’t be the funds to pay for it all. Actually, the rising cost of gasoline will probably do more for easing traffic congestion than most realize.
    The history of LA shows how the rubber, concrete and oil industries conspired to ensure that the auto was king for local transportation anticipating that LA LA Land was here to stay and they encouraged its sprawl pattern.
    Further, LA was built on a neighborhood/community based model, i.e., which also can’t be altered given the fact that many of the Neighborhood Councils and other community based groups are fighting to hold onto what makes their neighborhoods unique.
    Like Ron implies in so many times, “it’s judgment day, folks.” And, which side do you want to be on? The victim or part of the leadership of a new and improved LosAngeles?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Mike Woo, Eric Garcetti and Ed Reyes in the house: the three whores of density who ask for massive reductions of parking — even when the high capacity transit line is a half mile away. Idiots.

  17. Anonymous says:

    People in LA are stupid, period. They all voted in all the crooks & whores like Woo, Garcetti, Reyes, etc at some point.

  18. Anonymous says:

    “Downtown NFL Stadium Conspiracy” For Gawd’s sake, they’re not planning a presidential assassination. Enough sensationalism. If AEG wants to build a stadium on their own dime and guarantee the bonds to expand the Convention Center that’s fine. Just make sure they’re held to these guarantees.

  19. Anonymous says:

    And what makes you think we want a football stadium downtown built by AEG on their own dime or the citys?

  20. Anonymous says:

    There’s a lot of royal “we” getting thrown around. I’m a Los Angeles resident, and I would LOVE a stadium. As a big football fan, I’m constantly frustrated that we don’t have a foot in the game (UCLA-USC notwithstanding).
    So let’s not pretend like AEG is pulling one over on the public. Maybe they’re pulling one over on people who hate the idea of professional football in Los Angeles – but from my vantage point they’re working together to bring me a great service.
    Also, this traffic argument is a little silly – football is played on sundays. And that downtown area is serviced by multiple freeways. We’re talking about a maximum capacity of 75,000 or so, spread out across multiple hours, on multiple freeways, on Sunday afternoons…I don’t really see how that leads to a traffic disaster.

  21. Trevor Hand says:

    tinfoilonmyhead.com – LA Stadium Proposal Conspiracy

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