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Panel OKs $30-million loan for Cirque du Soleil in Hollywood


A five-member committee of the Los Angeles City Council voted this morning to move ahead with a $30- million loan that would bring a decade of Cirque du Soleil performances to the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

The council’s Housing, Community and Economic Development Committee unanimously forwarded the loan proposal to the full council for a vote, saying the deal would boost the economy by drawing tourists to the Hollywood & Highland shopping mall, where the theater is located.

Under the proposed loan agreement, TheatreDreams LA/CHI would promise to create no fewer than 858 jobs and stage the acrobatic show 368 times per year.

“This is really going to be, outside of the Academy Awards, the landmark show in Hollywood,” said Council President Eric Garcetti, whose district includes the mall.

The Community Development Department, which is processing the loan, estimated the city already has invested $127 million in the Hollywood & Highland complex, with a majority of that money going toward the construction of the underground parking garage and the theater.

On Tuesday, Councilman Dennis Zine questioned whether so much federal loan money should be devoted to a single economic development project. But Councilman Tony Cardenas said this morning that critics were taking aim at the deal simply because the facility is “so high-profile and so pretty.”

CIM Group, which owns Hollywood & Highland, sought the loan. The company is also relying on the city for financial help with development projects planned in Mid-City and Reseda. CIM Group leases the Kodak Theatre from the city, and its Urban Real Estate Fund is part of TheatreDreams LA/CHI. Under the proposal, the theater will continue to serve as the home of the annual Academy Awards ceremony.

-- David Zahniser

Photo: Christian Fitzharris clowns around a crowd gathered in May in Santa Monica. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (37)

I think we need to start implementing IQ tests to all local, state, and federal government politicians....they like to take great risks with taxpayer dollars, with no financial loss to themselves....I'm so sick of seeing this sort of waste....if Cirque truly beleives in themselves, then let them put the money up.

We were told in February that there could be a 1 billion dollar shortfall in the 2010 budget due to city pension funds and that it could double the following year. Also, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said that he was, " considering closing at least one jail and possibly a second to cope with a $72-million budget gap. We were also told in July that the LAFD might have to " temporarily take fire engines out of service at stations across the city."

That's O.K. though, at least we'll have a Circus.

Those of you saying that this is Federal money are missing the point. There is a finite amount of Federal money available through HUD and it should NOT be used to bail out wealthy Corporate interests like CIM who are well connected and have gotten away with a lot of other give-a-ways such as getting two additional sides of billboard graphics for their Sunset-Vine tower. Instead of Corporate welfare, apply this money to where it should be for-affordable housing or development in under-served, low income areas in real need. You are taking away money from the poor and giving it to the rich.

This is what happens when "we" elect stupid people to political positions. Stupid politicians make stupid decisions like this. All the while they are propped up, fed well and travel well on our dime and told they are the most intelligent people in the City. About 30 seconds after they take office, they really start to believe it all. After all, "their world" quickly transforms into "free" City cars and "free" gas, limousines, fancy restaurants paid for by lobbyists 7 days a week if they so wish, travel around the world with their boy toys or girl toys under the guise of "fact finding missions" to "benefit the City," "free" invitations to anything and everything, AND unlimited rounds of applause by lobbyists, City employees and citizens who all want something from the official at that particular moment. Their detachment from reality has evolved.

Then one day, they have a brain fart and say, "Lets have a circus come to Hollywood. People will spend billions to come to Los Angeles just to see our circus. We will generate hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues just like everyone told us would happen for Michael Jackson's Super Freak Memorial Service (we did make hundreds of millions on that right? Get back with me with numbers that show that in case the press asks). We will all be heroes and maybe we can go to Washington? Why isn't that man clapping for me, I have on a new suit. Everyone else is clapping for me, why isn't he clapping for me, I'm ME."

Let them eat cake, they say. 30 million dollars of tax payers money to have a circus. All the while, the City of Los Angeles is forcing their employees to take two unpaid work furlough days a month because of "budget shortfalls." Folks, if you want to see a circus, step right up to the center ring of the Los Angeles City Council Meetings at City Hall on Tuesdays. There my friends, you will see some real clowns. And "we" elected them.


LA loaning money to a circus so they can put on a show. They already have a three ring circus at city hall. If that isn't enough laughs, they can always get the one from Sacramento to come to town for limited engagements. Seems their brains are are in limited engagement anyway. Do we need more circuses? I think not.

And just FYI, Guy Laliberte, the founder of the Cirque, is spending an estimated $35 million to fly to the International Space Station. http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre56m6zs-us-space-shuttle-tourism/.

A $30M loan for CIM Group? Are you kidding? This is the same CIM Group that has already received hundreds of millions in equity investment money from our local and statewide pension funds. Why can't they spend that on Cirque?

It's also the same CIM Group that hosts campaign fundraisers for Villarigosa and Garcetti. Can we say conflict?

It's also the same CIM Group that breaks the law and puts up illegal billboards all over the city. The L.A. Times has reported extensively on this.

It's also the same CIM Group that has ignored critical terms of other tax-favorable city and other tax-break deals they have received in the past.

I don't want more taxpayer money going to this company. Please stop the insanity.

To lou | July 29, 2009 at 02:58 PM: Saying "And it's to shore up a huge investment that's already been made"

I would respectfully ask that you study our very recent history of Bailouts for the Rich Finanical companies. Its a very foolish argument, investing good money after bad that wasn't learned at the Federal level. In the case of the financial companies, the entire investment vaporized. This is an obvious bailout because CIM/Cirque du Soleil could not get these terms from the "Free Market."

Just look up the LA Times archieves on the bad loans made by the City of LA that had to be written off. And while you are at it, look at the favors CIM has received over the years and then snubbed its nose at the Citizens of LA by putting up an illegal billboard only to be taken down after it was exposed in the newspaper.

Enough of the corruption and no more gifts of public funds to wealthy corporations.

Take care of the working class taxpayers, they earned it.

This happens because there is no Constitutional limits on tax levels and debt. In short: the Government either local or federal has too much power.

These "partnership" deals are usually the same scam played over and over. Wave around some cash, have dumb and ambitious politicans become intoxicated by the potential revenues and see pie in the sky. This is no different than what's going on in New Jersey with corruption.

This is the work of corrupt politics and corrupt big business working against the citizens of L.A. Haven't any of these folks seen what has just happened in the U.S., although maybe they helped. These bogus deals of public funds to help and bailout huge and successful corporations have to stop. They are just a means of transfering public funds to private hands.

Meanwhile in California public education funds have sunk to an all time low and these clowns want to build a circus. That's immoral and disgusting and the engineers of such things should do jail time! Let Cirque borrow money from banks, preferably in Canada and not from the U.S. There's enough trouble with all the crooks and crooked companies here.

CIM gets Federal HUD money under Section 108--read about how this money is intended to be used (http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/108/)-"Provides communities with a source of financing for economic development, housing rehabilitation, public facilities, and large-scale physical development projects"-not for a brand new luxury privately owned theater such as the Kodak which was built in 2004. Eric Garcetti pushed for this at the same time CIM has not been maintaining a dilapidated and crime ridden property at the Northwest corner of Hollywood and Western. At the City Council meeting approving the $30M favor, the Housing Department officials falsely reported the value of the property at $600M (the cost to build) which was purchased at $200M by CIM. Way to go City of LA!

CIM has been doing politics as usual with many other cities...check out what they have been doing in Vegas!

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