AEG’s Tim Leiweke is in hard-sell mode, running all over town promoting the idea that he can bring the National Football League back to Los Angeles for a third try at no cost and no risk to the public.
That’s his story and he’s sticking to it, right up to the July 31 deadline he has set for the mayor and City Council to sign off on the deal or he’s picking up Staples Center and LA Live and leaving town.
You can take the City Council’s word for it that the negotiations under AEG’s ultimatum will be completely transparent and open and that no public money will be used for the deal or put at risk.
“There are no backroom deals,” Councilman Ed Reyes said at a meeting Thursday of the Council committee tracking negotiations.
Lead city negotiator Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller offers his own assurance:“The point of this is not to get a football team The point of this is to leverage a football team and a stadium to generate economic activity and generate money we don’t have today to fix a convention center that has to be fixed. We’ve got to fix it one way or another.”
Clearly football has nothing to do with it and freeloading mayor and Council members would never take complimentary tickets from Leiweki or political money or favors would they?
The trouble with this deal is simple: Even as Leiweke changes the deal from week to week, the basic premise is the same in that all the profits from tickets, concessions, digital billboards, naming rights, even a lot of the tax revenue goes straight into Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz pocket and any tax or other revenue that comes to the city goes to pay off the roughly $750 in debt the will be carrying for a white elephant Convention Center.
The Convention Center, like the billboard signage, are among the issues the transparent and open City Council doesn’t even want to talk about.
But if AEG picks the artchitect, Populous, to design the rebuilt wing of the Convention Center which will be an integrated part of the stadium and the city is ready to completely privatize the Convention Center, who do you think is going to run it and reap what Leiweke claims will be spectacular profits because downtown L.A. will suddenly be the hottest ticket in the country.
Maybe yes, maybe no. The same goes for all the other vague claims about luxury hotels on every corner and how tens of thousands of jobs will be created and billions of dollars will come flooding ito town and we’ll all be rich again.
As for the billboards, Dennis Hathaway of Ban Billboard Blight has brought his expertise to tracing how City Hall has been setting up a giveaway worth tens of millions of dollars in digital signage to AEG but never finalized the terms of the sweetheart deal.
Understand that whatever benefits Staples Center has brought the city and the far from successful LA Live has produced, they both were heavily subsidized by taxpayers and make no mistake — Leiweke’s claims to the contrary — when a business gets to keep the taxes customers pay for its goods and services, it is a subsidy, a $300 million subsidy in the case of the hotel/condo complex at LA Live.
As things stand, the only Council member who has raised questions about this deal is Bill Rosendahl and he’s taken to accepting non-answers to his questions as answers and talking more and more like the football is the most important thing L.A. needs to restore its pretensions to greatness.
So we are left with former Councilman Nate Holden to stand up for the public interest as he did before the Council committee Thursday and at Rosendahl’s town hall in Mar Vista on Monday.