Looks like the NFL threw a monkey wrench into plans to build a stadium in downtown L.A.
League commissioner Roger Goodell pretty much said no yesterday to the idea of a franchise coming to town for next fall. " ... Next season is too soon to put a team in the nation's second-largest market," he said, according to the L.A. Daily News.
Tim Leiweke of Anschutz Entertainment Group, the company proposing the stadium, had stated a team was needed next season to get this thing off the ground.
In fact sports entertainment guru Casey Wasserman, who's a partner in the stadium proposal, told us himself this 72,000-seat, $1.4 billion venue can't happen without some big guys in tight pants in-hand.
"No one's going to break ground without a team," he said.
AEG has said it wanted a commitment by the NFL to send a team to L.A. by March. Guess not.
Here's the Los Angeles Times take from summer:
Leiweke's timeline calls for getting the plan entitled and a long-term agreement with a franchise in time to break ground on a new West Hall by June 1, 2012. According to that plan, a team would be playing in L.A., at the Coliseum or Rose Bowl, by next season and would be ready to move into Farmers Field for the 2016 season.
In fact AEG's memorandum of understanding with the city says it can't break ground until a team is secured.
The company, which runs Staples Center and LA Live, wants to plop a stadium in next door at the L.A. Convention Center's ailing West Hall, which would be torn down. The new venue would replace Convention Center space and even expand it.
The corporation had also asked for swift city approval (an environmental impact report was expected next month even though no one has seen exact design plans, just artists' sketches), and AEG also wants about $300 million in publicly backed loans which it says it is guaranteed to pay back.
It is a viable market in the sense that we know there are millions of fans in that market who want to see football return there. But we want it to return in a successful way, and that requires a stadium. I don't think we'll be in a position to make that decision by 2012, but we'll continue to work with the different alternatives in Los Angeles and hope that we get a solution that will work.
[Added]: So we're in a chicken-and-egg stand-off here? AEG says it needs a team to go forward; the NFL says it needs a venue to go forward. Huh.
There's a competing proposal by Majestic Realty to build a stadium in the city of Industry. They have all the approvals and plans necessary to go forward and have been waiting for a while to see this happen.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
While the Majestic folks are probably also disappointed by Goodell's announcement, they've been waiting a lot longer than AEG and might be in a better position than that company to ride it out.
AEG, on the other hand, has repeatedly made demands of the NFL and the city of L.A., stating that they need a team and city approval ... or else.
So now it's time to ask, or else what? Are they going to roll up their sketches and say goodbye to their downtown stadium dreams, or are they willing to wait another year?