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Private donors will cover city's costs for Lakers parade [Updated]

June 16, 2009 | 11:06 am

Officials announced this morning that private donors will pay the city's entire share for the Lakers championship victory parade, capping days of debate that roiled City Hall.

Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti said this morning that it appeared enough private donations have been raised to pay for Wednesday’s parade to celebrate the Lakers’ NBA championship.

[Updated at 11:40 a.m.: Several City Council members had voiced opposition to using any tax dollars to pay for the parade because of the city’s financial crisis, which is expected to lead to widespread city layoffs and worker furloughs starting in July.

Over the weekend, city officials urged the owners of the Lakers and Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns Staples Center, to pick up the tab for the celebration. The two already pledged to pay more than $1 million in parade production costs.

The parade is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Staples Center and travel to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Sources told The Times two media executives and several other people stepped forward to help the city pay for its share of the parade celebrating the Lakers’ 15th championship.

Approximately $450,000 has been donated by Casey and Laura Wasserman, Jerry and Margie Perenchio and others, and other major contributions were pledged Monday. Casey Wasserman is the grandson of former Universal Pictures Chairman Lew Wasserman. Jerry Perenchio is the former chairman of Univision Communications.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office estimated the city’s costs could approach $900,000, but council members said those expenses could be much less because the parade route is shorter than in past years.

“I think they are very close. My last report was about an hour ago,’’ said Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes the Staples Center.

AEG President Tim Leiweke has taken the most active role in raising private donations to ensure that no city tax dollars are needed to fund the parade, city officials said.

 “I have to give a lot recognition to Tim’s efforts," Perry said. “The Lakers and AEG have always been very responsive to community needs. ... I’m not at all surprised that they have stepped up to be good civic partners."]

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa initially promised that the city would foot half of the parade's $2-million cost, which includes renting the Coliseum. He then said AEG would pay half the costs.

However, that idea was greeted with a Bronx cheer Monday.

Local radio talk shows were flooded with callers saying that a recession was no time to use city money for the parade. The Los Angeles Police Protective League urged the Lakers to pick up the entire cost.

Given imminent city layoffs and budget cuts, police union President Paul M. Weber said in a statement posted on the group's website, "it is foolish for elected officials to favor spending $1 million tax dollars on a three-hour parade."

Villaraigosa, along with Laker Derek Fisher and LAPD Chief William J. Bratton, will hold a news conference this afternoon to announce the financing for the parade. 

-- Phil Willon