AEG's Leiweke makes another pitch for taxpayer money

I thought L.A. Live was going to turn everything around for downtown. I thought that a convention center hotel was going to drive visitor traffic, and make Los Angeles one of the prime convention destinations? Judging by the way Tim Leiweke was talking at the Central City Association's gathering yesterday, apparently not - at least not without still more taxpayer help. This time, he's laying out a plan to turn the convention center property into an NFL stadium and exhibition space. "Game, set, match," Leiweke said. "Everything else will come. Retail will come, transportation will come and people will move back down here." But as with any AEG plan, taxpayers would be involved. Oh, would they be involved.

This is simple. If the private sector is going to step in and spend a billion -- and we're going to have to do that, that's only way it's going to happen -- then shouldn't we as a community spend a billion dollars where it has the greatest impact... In life you're put down here for one reason and that's to try to give it your best shot. and i know for the city of L.A. it's time we started acting like the second greatest city in the United States.

Ah yes, as presumptuous as ever in his vision of what the city of L.A. should be - perhaps forgetting about the hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink that could result in a sharp reduction in city services over the next several years. Or also forgetting that not everyone would be thrilled to help finance a football stadium, even if the economy were to suddenly turn around. This, of course, is Leiweke's schtick - "Every other city that we would be in, the city would come to us and say, 'Are you guys OK? Can we help you?' " he told the LAT, adding that L.A. should be counting its lucky stars that AEG is around. Or should we say local politicos? From the Weekly:

At the inaugural lighting of the JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton tower, Leiweke seemed to gloat over the fact that so many politicians were in his house: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Villaraigosa, five members of the City Council, and the city controller were in attendance. He joked that so many people from the City Council were in attendance that he could work out a deal to end the controversy of whether AEG should pick up the city's cost ($3.2 million) for policing AEG's Michael Jackson memorial show. On the spot. "We could do a quick session and agree to terms," he said.

What a wit. Ron Kaye is not amused:

What could be more thrilling for LA, with its closed parks and libraries and open slather policies for developers than to have taxpayers match AEG dollar for dollar to have a stadium downtown instead of out in the City of Industry where Leiweke's former partner, Ed Roski, has a shovel-ready stadium that won't cost the public a dime. Talk about creating good-paying jobs. Think about those high salaries of the 50 players on an NFL team plus the executive and coaches' salaries, not to mention the thousands of minimum wage, sorry living wage, jobs a stadium would mean for 10 games a year. Who could refuse an offer like this?

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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