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AEG repeats assurances about proposed L.A. stadium

March 4, 2011 |  7:05 pm

A panel appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that is looking at plans for a football stadium downtown held its first subcommittee meeting Friday amid assurances from the developer and some skepticism from the public.

Officials from the Anshutz Entertainment Group, the conglomerate that wants to construct the National Football League facility on city-owned land, repeated pledges that no taxpayer funds would be expended on the $1-billion project.

Ted Fikre, AEG's chief legal and development officer, also estimated that the stadium would generate millions of dollars in sales taxes and other revenue for the city’s beleaguered general fund.

Fikre and other AEG representatives could not, however, provide a more specific figure during their presentation before the fiscal impact subcommittee of Villaraigosa’s blue-ribbon commission examining the project.

Several questioners in the audience voiced doubts that the project would bolster the city’s coffers. Afterward, the two joint commission chairmen called the session informative, but said many more details were needed.

"Until we see the documentation and how the covenants are written, I don't think you can be truly satisfied to know that the city won’t be responsible," said Michael Lynton, the Sony Pictures chairman and chief executive who serves as a panel co-chairman along with First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner.

Lynton and others said they were keen for specific projections about how much extra funding the project would generate for Los Angeles, which is mired in deficits and has laid off employees, imposed furloughs and slashed services.

"It’s all well and good that the city may not be on the hook for any of the money," Lynton said in an interview after the meeting. "We also need to make certain that the taxpayers, the citizens, have a gain in all of this."

Friday’s public session was held at Galpin Ford in North Hills. During the session, business leaders praised the proposal as a potential economic boon for the region.

The AEG contingent pledged to hire locally. AEG also said it would pay the city a "fair market rent," though the fee has yet to be determined.

As part of the proposal, the city would be required to issue bonds of $300 million to $350 million to construct a new hall for its Convention Center. The planned stadium would be built on land now occupied by part of the Convention Center.

AEG officials said that that new revenues from the stadium project should cover most of the city's estimated annual debt service payments of about $25 million.

AEG has pledged to make up the $6 million to $8 million annual projected shortfall -- the developer’s estimate of the difference between the city's new receipts from the stadium project and L.A.'s annual debt service bills on the bonds.

In the coming weeks, officials said, other subcommittees would be looking at issues such as job creation, the potential affect on the Convention Center and environmental concerns, including traffic, noise and pollution.

An AEG representative said an environmental review probably would take a year. The blue-ribbon panel plans to issue a report on the project once its research is complete.


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-- Patrick J. McDonnell in North Hills