This much is official: There won’t be an NFL team playing in Los Angeles in 2010 – and so Ed Roski Jr.’s plans to build a City of Industry football stadium are on hold for at least a year.
There had been talk that an announcement could come after the Super Bowl that a team would be relocating to Los Angeles County. But no team is ready to move, acknowledged John Semcken, Roski’s point man on the proposal – blaming it on the league’s labor negotiations with players,
“We’re not anticipating that a team will move before this coming season. The National Football League is focused on their player contract,” said Semcken, a vice president at Roski’s industrial development company Majestic Realty Co.
Roski has proposed building an $800 million, 75,000-seat stadium near the intersection of the Pomona (60) and Orange (57) freeways, about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
Teams identified by Majestic as potential tenants include the underperforming Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars as well as teams such as the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers that are looking for new stadium deals.
The 600-acre vacant site is ready for construction, having already received the necessary environmental approvals and building permits. Majestic claims to have all its financing in order, but Semcken declined to provide details.
He also said that the company remains committed to the site, long slated for an industrial park, despite the fact that when Roski first proposed the stadium idea two years ago, he had hoped to have a team as soon as last season.
“We really like our stadium plan. We are all approved and ready to go,” Semcken said.
Roski’s commitment is worth noting given that a competing, if far less developed, proposal has surfaced in recent weeks.
AEG Chief Executive Tim Leiweke and Wasserman Media Group founder Casey Wasserman have floated plans to build a football stadium next to Staples Center.
Although no formal plans have been made public, the rough idea would involve an 80,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof that would be constructed where West Hall, the oldest wing of the Los Angeles Convention Center, stands.
Some view the idea as little more than wishful thinking, but others view it more seriously, including county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who as a Los Angeles city councilman and state assemblyman was a big supporter of a plan to renovate the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for use as a NFL stadium.
Ridley-Thomas said another stadium proposal could induce the NFL seriously to consider relocation of an existing franchise to the L.A. area. He noted the league prefers to have several plans compete against each other.
“The NFL loves to inspire competition,” said Ridley-Thomas. “I wouldn’t be surprised if a third plan comes forward, but the NFL has to make up its mind and be serious about the return of football to Los Angeles.”
Still, the obstacles to building a stadium next to Staples Center are huge, not the least of which is the cost of the project, which would involve building more convention center space to replace West Hall.
According to architects familiar with area, the complexity could bring the costs somewhere between $3 billion to $4 billion. That’s several times more than the cost of Roski’s proposal and even costlier than the $2.5 billion L.A. Live complex, which includes a 1,000-room hotel, Nokia Theatre, restaurants and office space.
World Cup Bid?
In order to mitigate the high costs of the downtown L.A. stadium, AEG likely would need guarantees to book several large events, such as the Super Bowl. Indeed, some think the proposal may have legs, because such a stadium next to L.A. Live, the Staples Center and the Convention Center would be a viable venue to regularly host the Super Bowl.
But what’s gotten less attention is the potential for a downtown stadium to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. (This year’s World Cup is being hosted by South Africa, with 2014 set for Brazil.)
Interesting to note: The U.S. World Cup Bid Committee recently named both Leiweke and Wasserman to its board of directors as the committee finalizes its bid proposals. Leiweke has a strong connection to soccer since AEG owns the L.A. Galaxy. Wasserman Media Group represents soccer players such as Mia Hamm and Landon Donovan in endorsement and other deals.
The bids are due May 14 to FIFA, a Zurich, Swiss-based international organization that governs international soccer. An announcement on the choice for host cities for both 2018 and 2022 is expected Dec. 2.
There are several other Angelenos on the committee’s 23-member board. They include California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, L.A. Galaxy star Donovan, Walt Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger and boxer Oscar de la Hoya. AEG owner and Major League Soccer co-founder Philip Anschutz also serves on the board.
The World Cup bid does not have a proposed downtown stadium listed as a potential venue because the committee only plans to include stadiums that are completed and ready for use. Los Angeles has two venues listed: the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Bowl, which hosted the finals of the 1994 World Cup.
However, a spokesman for the U.S. bid committee said any new stadium could host tournament games, even the final.
Staff reporter David Nusbaum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 236.
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