More doubts raised about downtown stadium plan

Is billionaire Phil Anschutz actually backing the proposal being advanced by his sports empire, AEG, to build a stadium and convention center next to Staples? Sources tell Yahoo Sports that Anschutz has informed Ed Roski, who wants to build his own stadium in the City of Industry, that he's not part of the downtown proposal - even though it's been hatched by his chief lieutenant, Tim Leiweke. That would seem to follow Leiweke's recent comment to the LAT about Anschutz not being convinced - yet - about the downtown site (kind of an important element considering that Anschutz would be bankrolling the plan). Based on this lengthy Yahoo story, Leiweke will have to convince more than just Anschutz, especially since he has given the NFL only three months to identify a new team for L.A. All this comes just months after Leiweke expressed support for Roski's proposal.

The problem with the project is the details. Simple details, such as where will fans park in one of L.A.'s most congested sections? How will they tailgate in the parking garages and underground lots that surround the spot? If you're the NFL, where will you set up shop with all those TV trucks and temporary buildings you need for the Super Bowl? And the most important question of all for a city and state that sit on the brink of financial collapse: How much will it really cost?


Aside from the local political issues (Leiweke and AEG have yet to even start an environmental impact report), the practicalities of moving a team to Los Angeles make that timeline almost impossible. In fact, to some people in and around the NFL, Leiweke's statements are almost comical. "What do I think?" a prominent owner of one NFL team said. "Well, it's good to dream. But there's a difference between dreaming and hallucinating."
Leiweke has said AEG would need an agreement from the city to take over management of the convention center (an idea that even his opponents on the stadium think is good) and he has made convoluted statements that seem to hint at the need for public funding for the project. The cost of building what Leiweke has proposed will likely exceed $1 billion. In fact, $3 billion might be closer, particularly when factoring in the cost of adding on to the convention center. That's in a city and state that are essentially bankrupt and have refused for years to pay for a new stadium. One high-ranking Los Angeles source said that the chance of getting public funding for the project is "almost zero."

By the way, the story notes that both the Roski and Leiweke groups have approached the Minnesota Vikings about moving to Southern California.

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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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