Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. City Council Approves Farmers Field Project Agreements

By Howard Fine Friday, September 28, 2012

The Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved a series of agreements with Anschutz Entertainment Group to build a football stadium downtown and replace the West Hall of the Convention Center.

The vote clears the way for the National Football League to consider placing a team in Los Angeles or for an individual team owner to move a team to the city, which has been without professional football since 1994.

The long-expected 12-0 vote approving the environmental impact report and a related series of agreements for the $1.5 billion stadium and convention center project came after reassurances that the new owners of AEG – which Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz put up for sale last week – would be bound by the terms of the deal.

“It would be irresponsible given recent news to take an action like this based on trust,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, just before casting his “yes.” vote. “We are not doing that. The deal terms will be binding on a successor to AEG and the city has the authority to enforce those deal terms on any successor.”

The deal calls for AEG to tear down the convention center West Hall, build the $1.1 billion, 76,000-seat Farmers Field football stadium on the site and then build a new hall adjoining the convention center. The city would sell at least $300 million in bonds for the convention center upgrade. AEG has agreed to repay the bonds with revenue from the project. If those revenues are insufficient, AEG must come up with the remainder out of its own pocket.

AEG also agreed to a sweeping community benefits package, including employing union workers and hiring locally. To address concerns about traffic, parking and the environment, AEG will finance the expansion of the Metro Blue Line stop at Pico Boulevard, build covered parking lots and finance numerous other road and transit improvements.

During the council discussion, project opponents said it would create additional traffic, parking problems and pollution that would be felt most by neighbors in the Pico Union district.

Under a state law passed earlier this year to expedite the legal process under the California Environmental Quality Act, opponents have 175 days to file legal challenges.