L.A. Times sports columnist T.J. Simers, who already devoted an entire column on November 8 in order to drum up support for a football stadium/convention center Downtown to be built by AEG, wrote another column about it on Monday.
Simers wrote that the San Diego Chargers could be on the move to Los Angeles. The Chargers have been asking for a new stadium to replace Qualcomm Stadium, but seem unlikely to gain voter approval for it.
This is nothing new as the Chargers have long been one of the teams rumored to be on the move to Los Angeles. Other candidates have included, at times, Minnesota, Buffalo, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Jacksonville. For Simers, the column was really another excuse for him to turn into an AEG mouthpiece.
For a writer who prides himself on always wanting to get to the truth and not being afraid to get people angry, Simers certainly seems to be in the thrall of AEG President Tim Leiweke. Every financial figure presented by AEG is presented as the unvarnished truth. And there is no room for debate.
All are in agreement, though, an events center would only maximize L.A. Live's effectiveness and lead to further development.
"The Microsoft convention this July will be the largest to date -- 45,000 hotel-room nights total, and that would not have happened without building this hotel in L.A. Live," said an AEG spokesman. "An event center would provide for more convention space and more hotels built downtown."
Any time anyone mentions a new stadium around here, the uneducated become alarmed, figuring public money would be spent on such a playpen.
No public money was used in the building of Staples Center. It's true more than $70 million was committed to the area surrounding the arena, where L.A. Live now sits -- $58 million in bonds currently being repaid. Another $12 million in redevelopment money was committed to the project.
When the bonds are paid in full, it's expected the interest paid will match or exceed the $70-million contribution, allowing AEG to say the city essentially paid nothing for the downtown facelift.
Leiweke has told folks in public gab fests no public money will be used on the events center. He's counting on Anschutz and a contribution from the NFL.
Who are the "all" in "all are in agreement"? The City Council? The Mayor? Downtown residents? City of Los Angeles taxpayers?
So, let's see how this works. The present Convention Center is torn down. A new multipurpose facility with a retractable roof is built in, let's say two years. The NFL manages to avoid a lockout and continues to rake in money. Some other city refuses to submit to blackmail and won't build a new stadium for its team, so it moves. Then, that team moves to L.A., plays in the brand new stadium. Downtown L.A. becomes an urban center that is studied in graduate schools for the next 100 years! The City of Los Angeles finds its general fund so flush that every citizen gets a $50 bill in the mail!
Sports stadiums are always sold to the public as the solution to just about every problem. They supposedly are an economic stimulus that is fun to visit! (Unless you're a UCLA football fan visiting the Rose Bowl. Then you're just going through hell, but I digress.) If Los Angeles wants to create more jobs for people to sell hot dogs and collect money at parking lots, then a football stadium is the way to go. But, can't the region come up with a better idea to provide better jobs for its residents?
Even if AEG pays around a billion dollars to build a football stadium, who is going to pay for the roads to take people to it. Or the improvements to the public transportation system? (Do you want to wait with a football stadium sized crowd at the Pico stop on the Blue Line?) Or what about stuff like water and other utilities?
Simers column just assumes that everything AEG tells him is correct. And everything will work out perfectly. And that just seems hard to believe. No matter what your level of education is. In Simers' view none of us are nearly as smart as an unnamed spokesperson for AEG.