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AEG chief criticizes downtown stadium skeptics, pledging 'not a penny' of city money will be spent

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The head of the entertainment conglomerate seeking to build a National Football League stadium in downtown Los Angeles shot back at skeptics Tuesday and reiterated his pledge that “not a penny” of taxpayer money would be spent on the mega-project.

“The city’s never going to have to pay a penny — and we’re going to guarantee it,” said Timothy J. Leiweke, president and chief executive officer of Anshutz Entertainment Group, which is behind the $1-billion stadium plan.

“It’s easy to take shots at this,” Leiweke told reporters. “Will everyone just take a deep breath and have a little faith that we’re not going to lie to people? We’re going to do the right thing. Calm down.”

A formal stadium proposal should be presented this week, Leiweke said following a press conference meant to drum up support for a planned streetcar line downtown. But questions afterward focused not on the streetcar proposal but on the stadium deal that has already been embraced by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and others.

However, several City Council members have voiced reservations about the project at a time when the city is facing an extreme fiscal crisis that could result in additional employee layoffs, furloughs and service cuts. As part of the stadium deal, the city would have to issue $350 million in bonds for a renovation of the adjacent convention center. But Leiweke vowed that his company would make up any financing gap if stadium revenue falls short.

“When the proposal gets there, everyone’s going to take a deep breath and realize: There is zero risk to the taxpayer,” Leiweke said. "This is people trying to scare people. And it’s a shame. Because we have a 30% unemployment rate in this city, for the construction industry. And if people think that’s going to be solved by sitting here and throwing rocks, they’re wrong.”

The NFL has reacted enthusiastically the proposal, said Leiweke, who called the project the largest private investment in a stadium in league history.

“Almost every other community in the world would be throwing parades,” Leiweke said. “But here we shoot."

That’s a classic Los Angeles reaction, the AEG boss said he told NFL officials. “I told them, 'Hey, it’s L.A. It’s the way we do things.’"

Leiweke also noted that there were skeptics about construction of Staples Center, AEG’s signature downtown arena, which is home to the Lakers and the Clippers and now widely regarded as having helped revitalize a once sleepy swath of town. Former Councilman Joel Wachs opposed the use of taxpayer money to finance the Staples project.

“If we would have listened to Joel Wachs,” Leiweke said, “we would have been playing basketball out in the suburbs.”

RELATED:

Video: Villaraigosa promotes downtown L.A. stadium

L.A. city councilman questions fast-tracking of downtown stadium project

NFL stadium plan meets with questions, some skepticism from L.A. City Council

-- Patrick J. McDonnell at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Tim Leiweke at press event for proposed stadium last week. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (68)

You go, Tim! It's time to take the gloves off.

Farmers Field will be a boon for the local economy. Keep pushing that message.

Next, the city will be changing downtown's name from LA to AEG.

The NFL is a cartel owned by billionaires. Diverting tax dollars to pay off a bond for a private project means the City doesn't get that tax revenue, the billionaires do. No, the City won't "pay a penny," but it will lose $350M it would have gotten otherwise. Oh, BTW, Mr. Mayor, will you let ME rent City property for a buck a year? I didn't think so. Municipal officials continue to be seduced by questionable self-serving stadium proposals. They shouldn't be. No subsidies to billionaires!

Great! But pay attention to Chris Hawthorne's critique. The urban design aspect of this proposal is as important as finally having a team and a new stadium.

Villargosa becoming chummy with AEG. AEG must either A) Offered him a job in the future or B) Villargos is working for campaign money. That guy is such a tool.

AEG. You don't live here, you don't have to deal with the smog and the vacant land once it goes belly under. I am upset that the highly educated people of Los Angeles think this is a good idea. Firstly, our traffic is already a disaster. To add 60,000 more people to an already coagulated and stressed freeway is absurd.
Smog is a huge problem here, why we would we worsen the situation for ourselves? Seriously? Let's move forward.
Wake up people, we are being used by big business and we're blinded by what? A football team?

"...have a little faith that we’re not going to lie to people?" Hmmm...did you really expect that no fans of the Los Angeles Kings would read that line? Your track record with the truth vis-a-vis AEG's ownership of the Kings leaves no room for faith.

Staples Center, LA Live, the Convention Center, Dodger Stadium. Can we wreak havoc with LA's freeway system any more? Sure, we can build a football stadium in the SAME 5 mile x 5 mile area. Good luck getting home, you commuters on the 110, 10 and 101 freeways!

I hope those who are elected to serve ALL the people (and not just Lieweke, AEG and other big business) take a wrecking ball to this ill-conceived plan. You want a stadium? Build it out in Irwindale!

How dare we think critically!

So, the story is this: AEG, during a time of economic crisis, says that it will fund NFL football in Los Angeles -- something NOBODY else has been willing to do for ???????? years -- and we the people of L.A. have a lot of nerve to be critical of the plan and must accept the offer in a short period of time.

TGTBT. Ask him how AEG is going to screw us. If he won't tell, don't take the deal.

How about you build it without the 350 million bond? Who's going to pay for the infrastructure changes? How are you going to fit parking for all those people on 15 acres compared to 600 acres in Industry? Sorry, but your the last person I will trust because your interest are in your pockets not in the taxpayers.

If no city money is needed why does the city have to issue the bonds? It makes the interest lower because the buyers don't pay any taxes on the interest. That's public money. The ground is donated by the city, that's public money. At least tell the truth.

The city is on the hook for the bonds, there is no way around it.

The issue here Mr. LIEweke is that why have the city issue $350 billion in bonds? Your boss in Denver is worth over 7 billion. If he wants this stadium/events center so bad then let him assume 100% of the risk! AEG needs to pay ALLL OF THE 350 BILLION for the Convention Center in addition to the 1 billion price tag for the stadium! Taxpayers NEED TO SAY NO TO LIEWEKE and Tony Villar!

I hear you Tim, this city does need help in more ways than one and personally I appreciate your vision and willingness to do something. Thats more than can be said for the Elected officials in Los Angeles. They are trying to get their names out front and had no vision nor provision to get this done. Part of the problem is that the thought and Vision did not come those in City Hall thus your resistance. BRING FOOTBALL BACK TO LOS ANGELES.

....so the city has to cut back on essential services and will have to borrow money for infrastructure to build a stadium for rich football players to entertain rich people...if it is such a great idea why doesn't aeg form an equity firm and invest the money paid to these football players in future earnings as an investment toward the cost...players health and well-being declines after their playing days are over...so many of go broke and need medical help so a return on the investment may help.....the rich never seem to have problems with health cost or living expense....the idea of the city floating a bond smacks of socialism, it helps the rich get richer...where is the tea party when u need them???....

of course Antonio is going to back this - he wants free tickets

If the city has to float bonds, then yes, we the tax payers are indeed footing some of the bill! And who do you think will pay for that streetcar project? And when the whole thing goes belly up?

More lies. Of course the public will end up footing part of the bill for this, because once underway they will surprise us with the project costing more than estimated. What a crock. Keep these sports complex boondoggles out of L.A. All these games attract are the idiot gang members anyway who inevitably destroy the surrounding businesses when they "celebrate" a win... No, ma'am!

There is little rationale to build the AEG stadium exactly in the spot which has the worst traffic congestion in the entire country - when there is a MUCH BETTER stadium proposal for the City of Industry nestled amongst scenic rolling hills. If AEG's plan was the only option then maybe Leiweke would have some reason to shove this sloppy plan it down our throats, but he's trying to kill a superior stadium plan in the process. As a 35+ year So Cal resident that makes me upset that we could end up with a bad stadium when we had a great one planned for Industry.

@bre, there will be 8 home games a year for that stadium and it'll be on sunday, the day with the least traffic. You can't argue the fact that this will bring thousands of jobs to LA. Lets get this done!

Why must this stadium be wedged tightly between Staples Center and the 110 Freeway? I'm getting a headache just thinking about the worsened parking and traffic situation. Why not site it on some parking lots and blighted buildings further to the east in a part of downtown more in need of revitalization?

But isn't it true that the city will lease the land to AEG for $1? It seems like lost rent to the city is pretty equal to lost taxpayer money.

I can't believe people get so upset about the City having to chip in for a stadium that will serve as convention space.

What? Do you expect a private company to just give the city a $350 million convention center make-over as gift?

So we help foot the bill for our own convention center, and are guaranteed to be paid back. What more do you want? Does AEG owe us a new freeway too? A new police station? Foot massages?

This is the best deal yet, but Angelenos still act like a bunch of divas. Get over it. Let's make this happen!

so why are they leasing the land for 1 dollar per year this is a scam from this crooks and liars
why will there be a bound for 350 millions dollars and we the taxpayers are in the hock for it
why are they in a hurry
why dont they let a independent do the inpact study for los angeles
the mayor and evry one in city hall are lobbys for unions and this special interest
this crooks in city hall have forgot they work for us not us for them

1) A bond is nothing more than a tax that TAX payors pay.
2) The more he defends himself the more I know that in the future there will be some reason to dip into the tax pocket.
3) Can anybody show me a project that involved a stadium that eventually did have over-runs
4) WHat if he doesnt have the money when there are over-runs, will he just say "sorry" and ask for more?

Sir, I dont think you would lie intentionally, however, history has shown you are most likely to be wrong.

I don't think the City of LA holds a candle to the thugs at the NFL. They wouldn't consider using the Coliseum or Rose Bowl for one reason- luxury box revenue is not shared between teams.

Quoting Wikipedia, "Under the NFL's current revenue sharing agreement, teams must forfeit a large portion of their ticket revenues so that the funds can be redistributed among all the teams, particularly those in smaller markets. However, the luxury boxes, quickly becoming a top source of revenue for the franchises, were exempted from this sharing requirement. Because of this as well as the NFL's blackout rule, there has been a rush in recent years to sacrifice seating capacity in favor of the luxury boxes, and teams have pressed state and local governments for financial assistance to either build new stadiums or renovate older venues. These new stadiums and renovations generally cost hundreds of millions of dollars; the two newest NFL stadiums, Cowboys Stadium and New Meadowlands Stadium, each cost over $1 billion.

The luxury box conundrum is one of the reasons why Los Angeles, which has two older stadiums (the Rose Bowl and the LA Coliseum) that both seat over 90,000 but contain no luxury boxes, still does not have an NFL franchise 16 years after both the Rams and Raiders departed in 1995."

Don't kid yourself- this is all about luring a selfish NFL owner by building more luxury boxes than in their current stadium- they don't give a damn about the guys in the stands.

 
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