Should Los Angeles provide a public subsidy to build downtown football stadium?
Los Angeles city officials had a generally bullish reaction to AEG's plans to build an NFL stadium next to Staples Center.
But Times columnist Tim Rutten is urging officials to be careful about the finances. Though no direct taxpayer money will go to build the stadium, Rutten said there is a public subsidy involved that needs careful checking:
City Hall's response to AEG's stadium proposal ought to turn on the question of whether public money will be required for it to proceed. [Anschutz Entertainment Group President Tim] Leiweke emphatically says that it will not. Strictly speaking, that's correct, though a kind of public subsidy is involved. AEG proposes to demolish the West Hall of the perennially underperforming L.A. Convention Center and build a new hall on Pico Boulevard. A stadium with a retractable roof and the capacity to hold 64,000 to 72,000 spectators, depending on configuration, would go up where the current hall stands. That land is owned by the people of Los Angeles, so there's a public interest there.
AEG also wants the city to issue $350 million in bonds to cover the costs of demolishing and replacing the West Hall. Leiweke has pledged that all the costs of repaying the bonds will be covered by the stadium's revenue. That will need to be formalized absolutely, though why an outfit like AEG, with pockets deeper than the Marianas Trench, needs access to the low-cost municipal finance market is another question.
Does this financial deal make sense for the city? Tell us what you think.
Image credit: AEG