Field of Dreams: Rendering of Farmers Field with Convention Center at right.

Field of Dreams: Rendering of Farmers Field with Convention Center at right. Photo by Courtesy Photo

Bringing a professional football team to downtown Los Angeles might not be dead, but it’s on life support.

The City Council voted last week to proceed with a plan to remodel the Los Angeles Convention Center without waiting for a long-planned football stadium to be a part of that plan.

The stadium plans were a key to the effort to return football to Los Angeles two decades after the Raiders left town. For the past four years, city officials had pushed a plan put forward by Anschutz Entertainment Group to build a $1.2 billion stadium on the Convention Center parking lot. As part of the project, AEG would have torn down the West Hall of the Convention Center and built a replacement wing in a different part of the complex.

But AEG so far has failed to reach an agreement with the National Football League or one of its teams to move a franchise to the proposed stadium, named Farmers Field for its name sponsor, Farmers Insurance Group in Los Angeles. Negotiations slowed two years ago when AEG owner Philip Anschutz announced he was putting the company up for sale. There has been little news since then, even though Anschutz took AEG off the market.

AEG’s development agreement with the city for the stadium and its proposed Convention Center overhaul expires in October. It is not likely to be renewed, unless significant progress is made toward securing a team; even then, an extension would only last a few months.

“The development agreement could be briefly extended, depending on the progress made toward securing a team,” Jeff Millman, spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, told the Business Journal.

Plan B

City officials earlier this year quietly began working up an alternative, known as “Plan B,” to revamp the Convention Center, which is seen as inadequate for large-scale conventions.

On May 27, with Garcetti’s backing, a council committee recommended spending $600,000 in bond money to pay for predesign work for three applicants for the Convention Center remodel. The full council voted June 4 to proceed.

Plan B presumably would not include plans for a stadium, although there is still a chance a design could leave room for one. But the impetus to do that decreases the longer AEG goes without any serious negotiations with a team or without a more firm commitment from the NFL to place a team here.

As described in a recent city report, Plan B now calls for adding 300,000 square feet of exhibit space, 75,000 square feet of meeting space, a 60,000-square-foot ballroom and various façade upgrades. There will also be space set aside for a 1,000-room hotel to complement the J.W. Marriott/Ritz Carlton hotel complex next to L.A. Live.


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