Updated with more juice on the deal. Reporting by Dennis Romero. See also: “Farmers Field: How to Sell a City on a Football Stadium (on its Property).”
Here it is, Los Angeles: The name of your future NFL stadium. Ready your inner hick, 'cause there's about to be a bona fied hoedown in the heart of L.A.
The NFL stadium in the works for downtown's Convention Center complex will be called Farmers Field. And you better like it, because the name's not going anywhere for at least 30 years.
That's what $700 million will buy Farmers Insurance Exchange, SoCal auto-insurer, as reported by Sam Farmer (LOL) of the Los Angeles Times. Stadium developer Anschutz Entertainment Group, who also owns the adjacent Staples Center, confirmed the deal in a press conference this morning.
AEG has promised to put more than $1 billion toward construction costs, but isn't above sweet-talking the L.A. City Council into helping out with the rest — prime city land, $350 million in public bonds, etc.
Shouldn't be too difficult, as the money love goes both ways: Anschutz just dropped $100,000 into the campaign drive for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's L.A. school board picks. You understand — give a little, get a little. Bedfellows to the end.
But, though the rest of the city's politicians are also drooling, the stadium doesn't have an official stamp of approval. From the Times:
The agreement with Farmers significantly increases the likelihood of the NFL's return to Los Angeles, but does not guarantee it, NFL leaders said. AEG will need to weather a likely litigious entitlement process lasting a year or longer. Its plan also is in competition with that of real estate magnate Ed Roski, who is proposing a stadium in the city of Industry. And, ultimately, the potential owners need to convince an existing NFL franchise to move to L.A. — a goal that has eluded several previous groups.
At the conference this morning, Mayor Villaraigosa announced another winningly titled new entity: the city's own “blue-ribbon commission,'' a group that will “advise me on the merits of the events center proposal, helping to ensure that the interests of taxpayers are protected and that any plan that is approved is focused on job creation and long-term economic growth.”
In any case, AEG promises Farmers a minimum of “50 events per year, with an attendance of at least 40,000 per event.” And at least we have a name for the beast now, right? (As we mentioned back when it was first tossed around: We L.A.-ites have thought of ourselves as many things, but “farmers”? Hm. Maybe in the cash-cow sense?)
Whatever. Head AEG honcho Tim Leiweke and all other interested parties are pushing the NFL to give us a team by March, so hold onto your cowboy hats, Angelenos! We gon' git ourselves a pigskin team!
For a fashion show of possible stadium layouts, see “Three Visions For Proposed NFL Stadium In Downtown L.A. Unleashed Today.” And there's always enough NFL meets L.A. drama to go around:
Originally posted at 9:50 a.m.