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What a Town Without Pity Can Do — Build a Luxury Football Stadium But Close Parks and Libraries

Nearly two years in the making behind the scenes, a plans to tear down the old wing of the LA Convention Center and build an NFL stadium has suddenly gained enormous momentum.

The goal is to give AEG’s Tim Leiweke complete city approval by March to demolish the West Hall and take over operation of the entire Convention Center operation with as little public debate as possible.

Janice Hahn, backed by the queen of downtown development Jan Perry, introduced a motion Tuesday calling for an “update” on where the City Administrative is at “in the process of developing recommendations that may include the issuance of a Request for Proposals from interested companies wishing to manage the operations of the Convention Center.”

On Wednesday, Perry herself, backed by retiring Northwest Valley Councilman Greig Smith, introduced a second motion that defined the terms for consideration of proposal.

Both motions were sent to the City Council’s Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee chaired by Hahn with Bill Rosendahl and Tom LaBonge as members.

The motions have not been scheduled for a hearing but there is ample time to bring them up at the committee’s next scheduled meeting on Jan. 19.

The rapid series of actions follows a long behind the scenes effort by AEG and Carey Wasserman who has tried to buy a franchise and bring the NFL back to Los Angeles after a long failed history of football in the city that saw both the Rams and Raiders flee.

A memo posted here Wednesday (NFL-Antonio.pdf) showed that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been involved in back room dealings with AEG and Wasserman dating back nearly two years. It was at that time that an architect showed a stadium with a capacity of up to 75,000 fans could be built on the small site adjacent to the Convention Center’s South Hall and AEG’s heavily-subsidized Staples Center and LA Live projects.

The Convention Center was included is a list of public assets that could be leased or sold to private interests along with parking lots and the LA Zoo but nothing was said about the stadium project publicly until the last three months when Leiweke began a carefully orchestrated series public appearances to lay out in small increments general details of his plans.

He has insisted throughout that AEG can tear down the West Hall of the Convention Center and build the stadium with a retractable roof for $1 billion without a public subsidy, asking only for $300 million in city bonds backed by AEG.

Independent estimates put the cost at somewhere between $2 billion and $3 billion based on what it cost to build new football stadiums in suburbs outside New York and Dallas. A separate stadium proposal in the CIty of Industry by AEG’s former partner Ed Roski is expected to cost $800 million without a dome using much simpler construction techniques.

The Hahn-Perry motion is pretty benign asking merely for an update on what is going on, which may explain the follow-up Perry-Smith motion asking for an “Environrnental Impact Report to the City at the earliest possible date” and creation of “a working group” to “engage AEG in formal discussions concerning their proposal to build a stadium in Downtown Los Angeles and bring an NFL team to the City “

“A major project of this scale may provide important economic benefits to the City in these difficult economic times, most significant being the creation of temporary and permanent jobs necessary to build and operate the facility,” the motion says.

“The significant upgrade to Convention Center facilities is also an important benefit that could be derived from the project. But any such project would have to be funded solely from new revenues associated with the project, must protect the City’s tax payers and the City’s general fund, and must generate revenues above and beyond those currently generated by the site.

“Because this project involves the Convention Center, protections must be in place to ensure continued attraction and growth of national conventions to the City and revenues associated with that activity.
 
“Any effort to move this project forward now requires the submission of a formal proposal from the project proponent. This will allow the City to dedicate the resources necessary to consider the merits of this project. If it provides the benefits reported, the City will be able to move forward the various actions necessary to make it happen.”

In plain English, what that says is that the city is broke and half a million people are unemployed or under-employed.

The Convention Center is a white elephant burdened with $500 million in debt although it is making a small profit after many years of steep losses.

Upgrading
the Convention Center with a football stadium doubling as its annex will provide AEG with the profits if you believe going to LA Live is comparable to going to Las Vegas with its casinos or Anaheim with Disneyland or Chicago with its vast entertainment districts.

Funded solely from new revenues associated with the project is the key. It means AEG will not only profit from the stadium’s luxury boxes and ownership but it will also keep the taxes from tickets and parking and everything else generated by the stadium as well as fill the subsidized hotel rooms and bars and restaurants it built at LA Live.

A Walmart superstore would generate revenue above and beyond what the Convention Center now brings in.

You have to wonder what protections they have in mind to keep national conventions coming here at a rate that puts LA below cow towns. Will we seize Staples Center if this is a bust?

What’s really important in this motion is we are going to dedicate the resources and make it happen.

It’s a done deal unless somebody asks the real questions:

How much do we want an NFL team in the city itself and how much are we willing to pay for it?

How many of us can afford Lakers tickets let along NFL tickets? .

Is an NFL stadium with digital billboards flashing day and night along the 110 Freeway and lighting up downtown what a city that can’t afford libraries, parks, firefighters, ambulances or even cops needs?

Why is this of all things a high priority when all the things that matter to the lives of four million people and hundreds of thousands of businesses ignored?

Back when the giveaways for Staples Center were being negotiated, only one Council member stood up and asked tough questions, Joel Wachs.

There is no Joel Wachs on the Council today, not even close. But his former chief of staff, Greg Nelson, who was deeply involved in the Staples negotiations and remains active in community issues, has sent out a single question survey about this stadium proposal.

“I am concerned that city officials will again find themselves
unwilling or unable to ask the important financial questions,” Nelson wrote in an email blast.

“This could be a great deal for downtown and the city’s taxpayers, but we
won’t know unless we are all able to make decisions based upon the most
objective information possible, and not rely on just information and
promises from the developers.”

He linked to the most comprehensive story done on the stadium controversy, one done by Yahoo sports writer Jason Cole, not a reporter for the local media. There are also links to the AEG site and Roski’s Majestic Realty.

Here’s his question that you can answer by clicking here:

“The Los Angeles City Council and mayor should have before them an
economic and financial analysis prepared by an outside expert who has no
interest in the proposal by the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to
build a football stadium downtown before voting on any agreement with
AEG.”

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15 Responses to What a Town Without Pity Can Do — Build a Luxury Football Stadium But Close Parks and Libraries

  1. Anonymous says:

    Now QB for the L.A. River Rats, #69, playing center, #14, wide receiver #?, full back #?…..

  2. Anonymous says:

    The intent is to give Tim Lieweke control of the entire City.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “all the things that matter to the lives of four million people and hundreds of thousands of businesses ignored?” Come on Ron, you can do better than this.
    It’s really not an us v them argument. This is a transparency argument. This deal needs to see the light of the day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with City officials exploring the possibility of a multi-million dollar economic benefit to the City and its residents. Yes, we can use the construction jobs. Yes, we can use the ancillary business activity that is generated by a new stadium and its patrons. Yes, we can use increased pedestrian activity in downtown LA, a place that not too long ago, people did not want to travel to after 5pm. All of these are positives.
    This is not an issue where City officials are forgoing filling potholes so they can put that money into a slush fund to purchase the Minnesota Vikings. This is a transparency issue and the only way you would be reporting this issue honestly, is if you reported it as such.

  4. rosario says:

    Honestly, what’s more important? Kids learning to read and write? Play and enjoy the beauty of our city’s parks? Or the next NFL Football stadium? I’m sure every kid will know how to read “AEG”!!! It’s easy as ABC!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I suppose the usual scum bag lawyers from Latham, Armbruster, and Jeffrey Mangels are working for AEG on this deal? Watch the movements of the lobbyists at City Hall Meetings.

  6. Sandy Sand says:

    I suppose it won’t do any good to write my councilman, Dennis Zine, about this.
    Anything the public has to say falls on deaf, corrupt ears.
    I guess the only way to stop this is for some enterprising group or attorney to file a lawsuit.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If every NC submitted a negative impact statement this would hold up the process before rushing this crapy development and favor for AEG. I’m tired of the NC’s saying the rep the PEOPLE of this City but continue to sit in silence and allow this bullshit to get through. STOP IT NOW!!! Back a couple of years ago it was NC’s who organized and stopped the DWP rate hike because they stormed city hall. Why aren’t they doing that NOW? Who do they rep if not the PEOPLE of this City??

  8. Anonymous says:

    That is such a good point about the NCs. There are some good people struggling in those organizations but it is thankless because the arrogant City Council, Mayor, and others marginalize and “forget” to notify them of what the City is up to. You can pretty much rest assured that they will not tell NCs the truth about the stadium scandal.

  9. Public Servant says:

    And all the while the city continues to attempt to balance it’s finances on the backs of those employees that just want to go out and fill those potholes. They cut services and the maintenance of the infrastructure that a project like this would rely on, just to have the funds to throw at a legacy project. Shamefull

  10. Anonymous says:

    It is a done deal. That’s why the stadium is being floated right now – making it seem like it is the exploratory stages, etc., pubic input is possible, etc. The dog and pony show at Council.
    Bottom line, the only hope we have is when the Environmental Impact Report is released. There could be the means for a lawsuit. It’s complicated as to the reasons why – suffice it to say, let’s hope AEG’s lawyers will have missed something…
    As for priorities – I agree. The relatively inexpensive recreational opportunities are no longer valued in the eyes of City Hall – which is why we are losing parks, and libraries.
    Further, all of this just proves how out of touch Antonio and the rest of them are with most people’s pocketbook. Who can afford to spend what $100, $200 per seat? Drinks at $10 (Dodger stadium is at the $6 mark for sodas); Beer at what $20, plus food??? For a family?
    These guys don’t realize the huge transformation people are undergoing these days – that most of us are turning into couch potatoes – content to watch a game in the comfort of our homes, equipped with flat screens galore, and instant replays! AND NO TRAFFIC. Especially if gas keeps on going up…

  11. Anonymous says:

    2:51p You are right on the money. Downtown Hotels aren’t seeing the business especially the big new ones like Ritz, etc. The theater owners are upset with the studios because they’re thinking of releasing films online shortly after they are in theaters. People aren’t spending the and don’t have the money. Clueless AEG and Council are naive and plain ignornant

  12. Anonymous says:

    Any one who believes that the football stadium will revive adjoining businesses downtown has no idea of the realities. People who can afford the Lakers tickets, for example, drive in their cars and drive right out of downtown. The only money they spend is within to the benefit of AEG/Staples Center. This will never change. Knowing what we do, why should we allow this scumbag AEG to make more money off the taxpayers?

  13. Bitter Betty says:

    Dear NFL,
    Please don’t come back to Los Angeles. Please don’t bring your NFL team. Please don’t bring your millions of dollars in construction jobs to Los Angeles. Please don’t bring your permanent stadium jobs to our city. NFL, we don’t want your economic impact. We’re doing just fine.
    Please don’t bring your corporate sponsorship. Please don’t bring your $500 million down-the-road Superbowl to LA. Please just stay away NFL. The second biggest audience in the United States doesn’t want your entertaining product.
    Every last citizen of LA is anti-AEG, anti-NFL, and anti-business. Just read the Ron Kaye blog and reader comments and you will understand our life-long discomfort with your heavy handed tactics to boost the local economy. Boo!
    Go to San Antonio. Build a second team in Houston. Take your product to Oklahoma City. We want you to always use Los Angeles as bait. Dangle us in front of irritating city officials who won’t pony up for a new stadium. We don’t mind. We like being treated as a second rate City.
    Yours,
    Bitter Betty

  14. Anonymous says:

    Luv u Bitter Betty.

  15. I like this web blog it’s a master piece! Glad I detected this on google.

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