Phil Anschutz' football stadium at L.A. Live would be called Farmers Field under a $700 million naming-rights deal with Farmers Insurance to be announced tomorrow, the L.A. Times' Sam Farmer (no relation?) reports with quotes from Tim Leiweke. Farmer calls it "a significant step toward bringing an NFL team to Los Angeles," though I guess Ed Roski may have something to say on that. Contingencies abound:
Announcing a naming-rights deal for a stadium that has not been built, on a site that has not been approved, for a team that has not been acquired is unheard of. No money will change hands unless each of those wishes becomes fulfilled.
But for AEG, making an announcement now provides a concrete benefit — providing a sense of momentum as the company, owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz, tries to persuade state and city officials to approve other crucial deal points, including a long-term lease agreement on the land for the stadium and expedited review of the environmental impact of building it.
The agreement with Farmers significantly increases the likelihood of the NFL's return to Los Angeles, but does not guarantee it, NFL leaders said. AEG will need to weather a likely litigious entitlement process lasting a year or longer. Its plan also is in competition with that of real estate magnate Ed Roski, who is proposing a stadium in the city of Industry. And, ultimately, the potential owners need to convince an existing NFL franchise to move to L.A. — a goal that has eluded several previous groups.
AEG has had discussions with every NFL team that could potentially move, Leiweke said in an interview, although he declined to list them. League officials have made it clear, however, that the L.A. vacancy will not be addressed until the current labor dispute between team owners and players is resolved. That could take months. The teams considered potentially movable because of their stadium leases are San Diego, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Oakland, San Francisco, St. Louis and Buffalo.
Anschutz probably won't be at Tuesday's unveiling, but Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be. He's a stadium supporter, and also Anschutz's companies have pumped at least $100,000 recently into the mayor's school reform political action committee.