The struggle to attract an NFL team to Los Angeles and build it a stadium is entering the realm of political war.
Over the past several weeks, representatives of AEG, the sports and entertainment giant that has proposed a stadium next to Staples Center, has been meeting with state legislative leaders to garner support for its nascent plan.
Now, billionaire real estate developer Ed Roski Jr., who has been stymied in his efforts to attract a team to play in his proposed City of Industry stadium, is firing back.
He’s hired public relations consultant Ben Porritt, who has no particular experience in the sports world – but is well known as the spokesman for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Hal Dash, chief executive of Cerrell Associates, an L.A. Democratic public affairs firm, noted the opposing camps have political clout, deep pockets and are battling for the support of both local officials and, ultimately, the National Football League on a national stage.
“This is not a sports war, it’s a political war,” Dash said. “This is going to be a fascinating political, media and community relations battle, par excellence. You have Goliath vs. Goliath. It will be a hell of a show.”
Porritt is a partner and senior strategist for Outside Eyes Inc., a Newport Beach-based public relations firm. Porritt previously worked for President George W. Bush and as press secretary to the former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. He declined to discuss how he intends to promote the stadium proposal.
However, he obviously would be a seasoned spokesman if the stadium duel migrates into the public and political arena.
The two stadium concepts are quite different. Roski’s proposal calls for a 75,000-seat open stadium about 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles near the intersection of the Pomona (60) and Orange (57) freeways. AEG’s idea – though no specific plan has been presented – involves an 80,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof built in place of a wing of the Los Angeles Convention Center.
In June, AEG officials met with members of the state Legislature to talk about their plans.
“They talked about how they want to bring a football team to Southern California,” said Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for state Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) who attended the meeting. “They wanted to put a face to the proposal.”
Shannon Murphy, spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, who also was there, offered a similar account.
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