Staples Center chief Tim Leiweke faced
the an L.A. City Council [added/corrected] committee today, hard-selling his company's plan to tear down part of the city-owned Convention Center and build an NFL stadium there.
We thinks the council has been licking its chops over this for sometime, so Leiweke's sales job must have been somewhat like watching a meatball beckon the rotund superstar chef Mario Batali. Don't worry, Tim, you got the gig.
Here's what he said:
Leiweke, president of Staples-owning Anschutz Entertainment Group, reiterated his promise that the proposed stadium wouldn't cost the taxpayers a dime or make a dent in the general fund.
"In other words, (there will be) zero risk to the general fund, zero money coming from the general fund," Leiweke said. "There will be no public dollars invested in the stadium ..."
He just needs one little favor from you, the people.
The city would need to float $350 million in bonds to finance a rebuilt portion of the Convention Center and a new parking lot.
Added: Leiweke's people want to emphasize that AEG would guarantee the bond money and pay off whatever amount tax revenues from the new development can't cover. In other words, they're guaranteeing the public doesn't get stuck with the bill, at least according what's been said so far by AEG officials.
What do we get in return? A stadium! A football team (maybe)! And ... drumroll, please ... as many as 30,000 jobs as this thing gets built.
Of course, the Convention Center is currently sitting on $440 million debt. It's not clear how that will be erased as this plan moves forward (or doesn't).
Meanwhile, Leiweke poo-poo'd criticism that a stadium would add to L.A.'s traffic nightmares downtown:
"What I can assure you of is that, as it relates to getting people in and out of the stadium on a Sunday afternoon, or one time a year during a weeknight, we are very focused at making sure that the current infrastructure will work... so for example, we won't book Staples Center on the day of a football game.''
Update: John Semcken, vice president of Majestic Realty, which has a competing stadium proposed in the San Gabriel Valley, said this late Wednesday:
"AEG is expecting taxpayers to dole out well over a billion dollars for a proposal that will compromise the City's general fund, the L.A. Convention Center, the new stadium and the financial success of any potential NFL team. Saddling the city and the taxpayers with more debt to to pay for AEG's Event Center should be a non-starter for the City Council. In addition, AEG is requesting an environmental waiver for the single largest development ever proposed in the City of Los Angeles, that is unacceptable."
First posted at 2:41 p.m. Wednesday.