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AEG unveils $700-million stadium naming rights deal as L.A. sports legends, power brokers celebrate

With a display of fanfare that included a hot-air balloon, a simulated football field and endless bottles of complimentary Veuve Cliquot Champagne, entertainment giant AEG formally unveiled its plan Tuesday morning to build a $1-billion football stadium and event center in downtown Los Angeles.

The centerpiece of the announcement was the news that AEG has reached a naming rights deal worth $700 million -- the most valuable such agreement ever -- with Farmers Insurance for the yet-to-be-built stadium to host a yet-to-be-named team.

Despite the obstacles to getting the stadium built, a who's who of L.A. power brokers in sports, business, labor and politics stood up and insisted it will happen -- and that it will happen without Los Angeles taxpayers footing the bill.

"We can make this happen for real," Earvin Magic Johnson declared.

Tim Leiweke, president and chief executive of AEG, which also owns Staples and the LA Live Complex, pledged that the stadium would be "driven by the public sector but paid for by the private sector, mayor, I promise," referring to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Villaraigosa followed him onto the stage, informed him that his promise was being broadcast on live television and then pledged his support, saying the stadium plan is really about jobs and "revitalizing the city center."

A host of football and other sports greats, including Jim Brown, Deacon Jones and Oscar de La Hoya, applauded as labor leaders, business executives and members of the City Council paraded across the stage to echo that message and announce their support.

NFL leaders have said the agreement with Farmers significantly increases the likelihood of the NFL's return to Los Angeles, but does not guarantee it. Los Angeles has been without a professional football team since 1994, when the Raiders and Rams departed.

Two groups are vying to bring it back, AEG in downtown Los Angeles and Ed Roski, who has a competing proposal to build a stadium in the City of Industry.

The Industry proposal is significantly ahead of the downtown bid because it is shovel ready with a piece of land that already has the necessary zoning and an environmental exemption. AEG is seeking a similar exception. But AEG's proposal is far more complicated.

Though AEG will build the stadium, Leiweke is asking the city of Los Angeles to float $350 million in bonds to cover the cost of tearing down and rebuilding the Convention Center's West Hall and parking, and pay off the remaining debt on the hall. The stadium would be built in its place, and the convention center relocated.

Leiweke said new revenue the city would get from the site, mostly from ticket taxes, would be enough to pay off the bonds, and AEG would cover any shortfalls.

AEG's proposal calls for the stadium to be used not just for 10 football games a year, but other events such as NCAA Final Fours, major soccer games and conventions.

Farmers has been promised at least 50 events per year, with an attendance of at least 40,000 per event.

Critics of AEG's plan object to the location of the proposed 64,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium, which would be part of the Convention Center complex at the intersection of the I-10 and I-110 freeways.

They fear potential traffic and parking problmes and question whether the project can be completed without a significant contribution of public money, as Leiweke has promised.

But there were few naysayers at Tuesday's event, and before scores of supporters and members of the press were released from the auditorium and sent out onto a faux football field to sip Champagne and eat chocolate-covered strawberries, Leiweke issued a challenge to his critics: "What I say to the skeptics [is] … it's easy to shoot darts, but let me tell you, the economic development of Staples and LA Live is a fact."

RELATED:

AEG, Farmers Insurance in naming-rights deal for new stadium

Naming-rights deal could work out for Farmers Insurance and AEG

Nothing groundbreaking in downtown L.A. stadium design proposals

-- Jessica Garrison

Image: AEG Digital Group

 
Comments () | Archives (20)

wow this stadium and complex is going to be awesome, will transform downtown LA into a sporting entertainment hub, great stuff.

Make it happen AEG!!!! I don't want to drive out to the waste land known as the City of Industry.

I've witnessed the rabble after Laker Championship games ... a football stadium ?
Unless AIG can provide over the top security to surrounding business and willing to stop promoting or pandering to the ideal that sports and gang affiliation go hand in hand ... Maybe ,otherwise forget about it .

My counter-offer: $700,000,001.00


What a bunch of crap. The taxpayers will finance this stadium with inflated ticket prices, parking(if you can find any), and personal seat license fees to season ticket holders. All this for a mediocre(or worse) team at best. I'll just continue to watch the NFL at home for free. Screw 'em!

Do we have a team to play there?

Will Farmers raise its insurance rates to pay for this?

Yup, Traffic in LA is going to be SO much better. "Can't Wait!!!" /end Sarcasm...

I certainly hope it happens. Just don't bring the Rams back. Ok, I'd even take the Rams at this point.

Here is an idea for solving the NFL in LA issue.

It seems difficult to move a team to LA, and expansion in not happening anytime soon.
LA is a special market considering the entertainment industry.

Why not use the proposed 18-game schedule in this way:
-Have the two extra games for each team played on a neutral site.
-Have the new LA stadium be scheduled for a game every week.
-All teams would play there at least once each year.
-Other neutral sites can be in cities that want NFL in the future (San Antonio) or international games (Mexico City, Toronto).
-LA stadium owner would have 18 games of revenue instead of a typical 10 (2+8).

Then you can solve the 18-game issue regarding player health by having a rule that players can only be active for 16 games. The owners and players get the extra revenue while not increasing the danger to players. And more players will get an opportunity to play (not stuck behind a star player).

I'm glad I'm in OC. I can't imaging a hell of traffic jam. its even going to be worse than Dodger stadium (former LA resident).
Best of luck LA and brig few books on tape to listen to while you're in traffic:))

NFL's return to Los Angeles!, the 16 year unfulfilled promise! Maybe if I see my great grandchildren in the afterlife, I hope they tell me that in the year 2067 or so, all of the political, and socioeconomic quagmire cleared up and L.A finally got a team! Me and St Peter will truly dance on that day as heaven's gates will swing open really wide!LOL!

And your Super Bowl Champions.... The Los Angeles Vikings!!!!!!


I hope that when the stadium is designed, it will not seat 80,000 to 100,000 like the new Cowboy stadium because whatever team plays in LA will not sell out that many seats. That will lead to blackouts in the local area. How bad is that going to look with all the whining about wanting an NFL team, their games are blacked out. Don't you remember the Rams and Raiders not selling out games, I do.

Will they call the stadium "The Farm"?

What about naming the stadium Si Se Puede? It would go well with the population of Los Angeles. Oh well it will then be a soccer or bull fighting stadium.

@Mr. Freeze: AEG could hand deliver comped season tickets to you and provide limousine service to every game, and you'd still find something to whine about.

If it doesn't work for you, fine. Stay home. But don't pretend to speak for any football fan in this city.

110 fwy will be a mess but who cares? I will walk, I just want some damn football.

This is just the sort of stupidity that made us a nation of couch potatoes in the first place. Isn't it about time we stopped using recreation and sport to make money of people? How about $700 million worth of new parks and recreation fields for the tens of thousands of children and adults in Los Angeles who have nowhere near where they live to get some healthful exercise? We can name them all Farmer's Field's and even put mugshots of professional athletes on the restroom walls to remind our youth that what they really need is an education, not a job with the Lakers!

That is really true. Here are so many people living. Stadiums have capability to huge people. Thanks


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