Story courtesy of The City Maven.
By Alice M. Walton
The Los Angeles City Council committee tasked with vetting plans for a $1 billion professional football stadium in downtown Los Angeles met for more than two hours today to call for transparency in the negotiating process, but virtually no new details emerged from the meeting, which followed Monday night’s town hall in Mar Vista.
That the Anschutz Entertainment Group will eventually be given permission to construct Farmers Field on the site of the West Hall of the Convention Center seems to be a foregone conclusion. At this point, the only remaining questions are the precise details of the deal. The chief legislative analyst told the Ad Hoc Committee on the Proposed Downtown Stadium that there are two or three outstanding issues that could have significant financial impacts on the city.
Committee members spent the first 20 minutes this morning discussing the need for transparency and whether it would be possible to hold meetings outside of City Hall, to give Angelenos a chance to feel they have a say in the matter.
At one point in the meeting, Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who has been identified as a skeptic of the project, told the audience, “We all want a football team. We all want a stadium. I mean, it’s a no-brainer.”
AEG reps want city officials to sign off on the framework of a memorandum of understanding by July 31, so they can move forward on the project and be ready for the 2016 football season. The city cannot officially agree to the plan until an environmental impact report is certified some time next spring, said CLA Gerry Miller.
The West Hall of the Convention Center would be demolished if the Farmers Field plan is approved. It would be replaced by Pico Hall, contiguous to the existing South Hall of the center. The city would need to float bonds in the high $200 million range to finance the deal, AEG’s Tim Leiweke said Monday. That’s down from the original projection of $350 million.
AEG reps have said the company would pay off that debt with the new taxes generated by the project. AEG’s owner Phil Anschutz — #124 on Forbes’ list of billionaires — would not personally guarantee those bonds, according to Leiweke.
“The point of this is not to get a football team,” Miller said. “The point of this is to leverage a football team and a stadium to generate economic activity and to generate money we don’t have today to fix a convention center that has to be fixed. We have to fix it one way or another.”
That said, Miller cautioned that the facts and figures reported by AEG may not be part of the final negotiated deal.
“The deal they propose in public (is) not necessarily the deal that (CAO) Miguel (Santana) and I will recommend to you,” Miller said.
The items on today’s agenda were mostly verbal reports. The one action item, to increase a consultant’s fee from $250,000 to $400,000, was forwarded to the Los Angeles City Council. AEG is picking up the tab for the city’s consultant.