By DANIEL TAUB
With the clock ticking down toward a crucial Oct. 27 meeting with National Football League owners, the partnership bidding to bring pro football back to the Coliseum is scrambling to freshen its playbook.
New Coliseum Partners LLC has hired NBBJ Sports & Entertainment to come up with a new architectural plan to rebuild the outdated Coliseum, and has hired Landmark Entertainment Group to design an entertainment complex for an adjacent site.
The new plans are intended to give new energy, quickly, to a Coliseum bid that some in the NFL consider to be tired.
"There was the need to create some new excitement for our project," said John Semcken, executive vice president of New Coliseum Partners.
The moves come amid a last-minute charge by another local group, led by former Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz. Some NFL observers consider the Ovitz proposal, which would involve a stadium/retail complex in Carson, to have an edge over the Coliseum effort although both might be thwarted by a strong pitch being made by Houston. The Houston plan is expected to include more than $200 million in tax dollars from Harris County, Texas.
Semcken said NBBJ was a natural choice because it also designed Staples Center, the future home of the Kings, Lakers and Clippers. The downtown arena, currently under construction, also is being developed by Ed Roski Jr. and Philip Anschutz, lead principals of New Coliseum Partners. Roski and Anschutz also are co-owners of the Kings.
Michael Hallmark, principal of NBBJ Sports & Entertainment, said the tight timeline does not pose a problem, because the firm is only developing the basic concept for a rebuild of the Coliseum's interior.
"It really worked the same on the Staples Center arena. We were allotted only a few weeks to come up with a notion of an arena," he said. "We want to present enough to get (NFL owners) very excited about this particular site, and this particular city, and once that happens we will progress with some very serious planning."
Hallmark did not provide details on how NBBJ's plan would differ from the previous design from HOK Inc., but he did say it would include an increased number of luxury "club seats" 15,000 instead of 10,000 and will feature family picnic areas.
"It doesn't do us any good to create a sight-line-perfect stadium without paying any attention to kids," he said.
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