JOE BEL BRUNO Staff Reporter
Goodbye Inglewood, hello downtown Los Angeles.
After more than a year of intense negotiations, developers of a proposed sports and entertainment complex said they will now give full attention to building the facility adjacent to the L.A. Convention Center.
And in another move that bolsters the downtown site, the developer for the first time released renderings of what the arena might look like.
“We have been told to focus only on downtown Los Angeles,” said John Semcken, vice president of Majestic Realty Co. who is negotiating on behalf of the developers. “We’ve identified several architects that share our vision, and want to move forward in building a complex for the 21st century.”
For more than a year, the developers of the proposed arena Los Angeles Kings co-owners Ed Roski Jr. and Philip Anschutz have been simultaneously negotiating with the cities of Los Angeles and Inglewood. But the developers broke off their talks with Inglewood a week ago to focus exclusively on a downtown L.A. site, according to sources close to the negotiations.
Inglewood officials did not return telephone calls last week.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles City Council expects to get their first look at environmental reports on the site this Friday, Feb. 28. If the EIR is approved, after extensive public hearings, then the council would need to approve a final “memorandum of understanding” with the developer. That MOU is not likely to finalized until May, said Semcken.
The envisioned 20,000-seat arena which would be home to both the Kings and Los Angeles Lakers is budgeted at $250 million. In addition, long-range plans call for possibly building a 1,500-room hotel and 500,000-square-foot retail complex.
But actual construction must get underway soon if the arena is to be completed in time for the 1999 hockey season, said Kings President Tim Leiweke.
“Ironically, the newest sports and entertainment complex we have (in the area) is the Forum (circa 1967) and that shows how far behind the times we are,” Leiweke said. “We have to make this a world-class center so that L.A. can hold things like the NBA All-Star Game, the NHL All-Star Game, world gymnastic events and award shows like The Grammy’s.”
The developers have narrowed the field of possible architects to Seattle-based NBBJ Sports & Entertainment and Los Angeles-based Albert C. Martin & Associates.
The artists’ renderings, released for the first time last week at a meeting of the Central City Association, got a positive reaction from local business leaders.
It is seen as one of a few major projects that political and business leaders say will spark a downtown revival.
“Combined, all of these projects will be the engine that propels this city into the 21st century with a bang,” said Nicholas Goldsborough, chief operating officer of the Music Center.