When the Business Journal’s online survey asked readers to weigh in on whether a football stadium should be located in the City of Industry or downtown Los Angeles, more than 27,000 votes were cast.
That’s about 26,900 more than usual. That huge number of votes was driven by e-mail campaigns that could be a sign of budding competition between two opposing factions.
Ed Roski Jr. has laid plans for a stadium in Industry, while AEG Chief Executive Tim Leiweke and Wasserman Media Group founder Casey Wasserman are pushing a rival plan for downtown. Both sides mobilized to measure up their respective get-out-the-vote campaigns against the other.
“Interesting that they are trying to sway the vote and (are) still losing,” Leiweke wrote in an e-mail that was advanced to the Business Journal. “I think this is a big deal.”
In a way, the e-mail campaigns were a clash of business titans. Both sides are well connected politically and financially. Roski, a billionaire developer, has been working on his stadium proposal for years. AEG, owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz, is an entertainment and sports powerhouse.
Repeated calls to representatives of Leiweke and Roski were not returned. A spokeswoman for Wasserman said he wouldn’t comment.
Other organizations got in on the action, too. In the eastern San Gabriel Valley, groups including the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, the San Gabriel Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Irwindale Chamber of Commerce sent out e-mail blasts of their own urging recipients to vote.
“I sent it to our top 50 leaders, and they forwarded it on to their groups,” said Heidi Gallegos, chief executive of the San Gabriel Valley chamber. “I think both the downtown and San Gabriel Valley business communities need something that is going to give that economic boost. I can see why folks are taking a sincere interest in this.”
Downtown received about 45 percent of the vote; City of Industry, 40 percent. However, 15 percent said they didn’t want a football team at all. The votes appeared to be individually cast, although multiple votes were allowed early in the process, according to the Business Journal’s tech team.
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. The 600-acre vacant site is ready for construction, having already received the necessary environmental approvals and building permits. Although Leiweke and Wasserman haven’t presented specific plans, the rough idea would involve an 80,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof that would be built in place of a wing of the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Carl Terzian, head of public relations firm Carl Terzian Associates and a longtime observer of the power elite in Los Angeles, said the rival camps might see the poll as an important weapon in the battle.
“To be able to cite any poll would be part of the marketing strength and political strength of the developer,” Terzian said. “I could see why they would want it as part of their ammunition to use in support of the project.”
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