L.A.'s new, stadium dreams are another step closer to reality despite a move to sell by the developer that caught many by surprise. The City Council unanimously approved the stadium plans today.
In the midst of $1.5 billion plans to build Farmers Field next to its LA Live entertainment complex and redevelop part of the taxpayer-owned Convention Center, Anschutz Entertainment Group announced that the company is up for sale.
Though the stadium plan was being fast-tracked through City Hall, the sale announcement prompted …
… some last-minute changes to proposed agreements between AEG and the city, including caveats that the council could stop new owners from developing a stadium if they don't have the cash or proper background.
But today, in front of AEG honcho Tim Leiweke, former Laker Kareem Abdul Jabbar and would-be AEG buyer and richest-man-in-L.A. Patrick Shoon-Shiong, the council said yes to the 72,000-seat venue.
The stadium would sit atop a redeveloped Convention Center West Hall, an improvement being spun as a way to get L.A. more convention traffic (and tourist dollars).
But part of the deal would have taxpayers back $300 million in bonds, which essentially comrpises a city-guaranteed loan, for the development.
[Added at 1:25 p.m.]: City News Service says there were “cheers and high-fives” as the council voted 12-0 to approve the stadium.
[Added at 1:37 p.m.]: AEG's Leiweke, who has said he'll stay on for five more years despite the sale, told the council (via The City Maven):
Roger Goodell [the NFL's commissioner], LA is open for business, bring football back to L.A.
Leiweke has said in the past that the stadium can't happen without a team committing to returning to playing in it first.
Business journalist Mark Lacter opined at LA Biz Observed this afternoon that the vote represented a “folly:”
… The folly that played out this morning wasn't about persuasive arguments – it was about legacy building, pure and simple. Holding off on a deal until there's a new owner of AEG – what any reasonable businessperson would want to do – was simply unacceptable because the major players involved, especially the mayor, wanted the stadium deal consummated on their watch, no matter what. So that's what we saw this morning: No-matter-what governance. Embarrassing all the way around.