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Councilman raises new questions about downtown L.A. football stadium plan

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl raised new questions Thursday about a proposal to build a downtown football stadium on public land.

Click to read the letter In a letter to negotiators reviewing the $1.4-billion proposal by sports and entertainment conglomerate AEG, the Westside councilman asked for details on how the developer would deliver on a key promise: that the stadium, combined with reconfiguring the city's convention center, would dramatically improve Los Angeles' ability to attract major business events.

The move comes as a blue-ribbon commission created to examine the proposal prepares to hold its first meeting Friday in North Hills.
 
The Los Angeles Convention Center is widely regarded as underperforming, in part because of design flaws that turn off exhibitors. The stadium’s backers, the Anschutz Entertainment Group, say their proposal would increase convention business by creating more contiguous and expanded event space next to the Convention Center, providing an ongoing financial boon of millions of dollars annually in new economic activity. And they pledge to do so at no cost to the city.

Rosendahl, who has voiced some of the strongest City Hall skepticism about the project, laid out what he called “vital questions” that need answers before the stadium can be approved.
 
“Cities have a history of entering into deals to build football stadiums without doing their due diligence,” he wrote to several key officials close to the negotiations. “The result often places unnecessary strain on the city’s budget, and diverts money from core services.”

Among the issues he raised:


--Could the stadium construction limit future expansion options for the Convention Center as it seeks to remain competitive with other top conference destinations?

--How would the new exhibition space on the stadium floor compare in terms of marketability with more traditional configurations elsewhere “where all the space is within the convention center?”

--How can the construction, including demolition and relocation of one major convention hall, occur without causing disruptions and potential loss of revenue from existing event customers and who would make up any losses?
  
--How would football demands on stadium usage potentially conflict with such things as the November Auto Show and convention exhibitors that may need to set up and tear down during weekends when the stadium is in use.
  
“Those questions in my mind are critical,” Rosendahl said. “My bottom line, my main goal is where does the city of Los Angeles financially get impacted, or does it not?”

The letters were delivered Thursday afternoon to the offices of Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller, Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, City Council President Eric Garcetti, First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner and Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who heads the council’s budget and finance committee. Rosendahl requested written responses to his queries from Miller and Santana.

Santana and officials with AEG said they had not seen the letter and did not have an immediate comment. Beutner, Miller and Garcetti’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Beutner is heading the mayor’s blue-ribbon committee, which is holding its first meeting Friday in the San Fernando Valley. AEG will give its first public presentation about the proposal, and business leaders and community groups have been invited to discuss the potential fiscal impact.

In an interview, Rosendahl said his letter was the first of five or six he planned to write outlining questions about the stadium proposal in coming weeks. The next missive, to be released next week, will inquire about the financing of the proposal. Under AEG’s plan, the city would issue $350 million in bonds to tear down and rebuild the Convention Center’s West Hall. AEG has pledged to pay for the bonds, but Rosendahl has questions about how the money would be paid back, if doing so would divert funds that would otherwise pay for police and other essential city services and what kind of guarantee AEG will offer to ensure that the city is not left on the hook for the bonds.

Rosendahl said he hopes that the responses to his questions shed light for taxpayers and his council colleagues.

“You and I will both have a better sense of if it’s a good deal here or not,” he said. “There’s a lot at stake.”

-- Seema Mehta and Rich Connell at Los Angeles City Hall
 
Comments () | Archives (19)

Finally, some logic and reason.

Keep asking questions. We don't need surprises after it starts.

The Councilman is beginning to ask the right questions. Let's hope he continues to seek answers. If no responses are forthcoming, or are vague, the next step should be a re-consideration of the whole deal.

If it's such a deal why float bonds?

Can't (or won't) AEG get a bank loan?

Makes you wonder!

Smart man that Mr. Rosenthal - consider the cost to the County and City of St. Louis-MO for the Rams relocating there after the 1994 season was over a full $1 billion. Those very same Rams and the NFL are now asking for a new venue from a stadium built for them a mere 16 years ago - the Edward Jones Dome - think of the bonds still being paid and all the money that could have been used for St. Louis servicing those bonds.

Rosenthal is what a civic leader should be - looking out for those he represents - he is laser accurate as to what rights will the City of LA have over the grounds surrounding the remaining Convention Center when the NFL is playing there even more what control over the grounds when other non-NFL events are being showcased?

"Rosendahl, who has voiced some of the strongest City Hall skepticism about the project, laid out what he called “vital questions” that need answers before the stadium can be approved."

Now AEG and the NFL know whose palm to grease...

How about AEG provides a guaranteed 50-year income stream to the City of Los Angeles, and guarantees upkeep and no costs whatsoever.

Otherwise a stadium is a BAD IDEA.

This downtown football stadium sounds stupider the longer it hangs around.

These are all good questions and should be addressed. However, I do believe building a stadium as part of a vibrant downtown will lead to a higher demand for conventions. The stadium draws crowds. Crowds feed local businesses. Local businesses create community. As an example, check out San Diego's gas lamp district. Or frankly compare pre and post AEG south park. Putting a stadium in a part of the city that is only accessible by freeways and does not help build a greater business center, just doesn't make sense.

The fact that AEG wants to build it so badly " at no cost to the city" is suspicious and cause for further concessions on their part.
Really? Are they just such nice guys wanting to help the city or greedy money grubbers who care about nobody but themselves?

Also, another question he needs to ask, but forgot, is how would football fans be able to tailgate and where would RVs be able to park without a large and sufficient parking lot adjacent to the stadium? If there is not sufficient parking for tailgating and RV parking prior to footballs games, then the idea is a no go.

Bravo for being willing to ask the tough questions doubley so in this fragile economy. Too many cities, blinded by the allure of a brand new, state the art stadium, put on blinders, when it comes to maturely discussing the numbers. No one wants a football team in Los Angeles more than me, but it would be criminal to stick the 2 billion tab on taxpayers. And, what of the money that that'll be lost from a smaller convention center,

A major reason NAMM went back to Anaheim was because the lack of hotels. So what does Downtown LA do? Create one BIG HUGE phalic-y ultra mega bucks hotel that is too expensive for such events.

AEG owes it to the residents of Los Angeles to provide accurate, honest and transparent information throughout the process; it starts with answering the councilman's questions. Downtown is where our stadium should be and will be. Let's make it happen the right way, by being frank and open about the entire guargantuan process and what it means for our home, most notably, the realities of cost, and the effect, short and long-term, for our fiscal future. See you at the game.

Rosendahl is right. He, the entire city council, the mayor, the controller and other relevant city officials should be demanding answers to his questions and proof that those answers are highly feasible before they embrace what looks like --- on the face of it --- another boondoggle for the city's taxpayers and a boon to another big-time development combine. Everybody makes money off this city except this city and this has got to stop! This thing needs to be taken apart and studied thoroughly from every angle to make certain it is in the best financial interest of the city.
Betty

Bill Rosendahl is asking the right questions. Finally, some leadership from City Hall. The fact is, the vast majority of LA football fans won't be able to afford to attend these football games. The City needs to squeeze every last penny out of the wealthy elite who want the NFL in LA. It would be infinitely better if the community owned the team like Green Bay.

Please stop asking the questions so the stadium can be built and the Dolphins can be there by 2013. Wouldn't you like to have a team? You may have the Dolphins, thank you!

Rosendahl is going to unpeel the onion of this AEG ripoff of the city. One of the other issues that AEG doesn't want people to think about is that they want to get out of having to make any road improvements. What happens when you dump tens of thousands of fans onto downtown all at the same time.. gridlock.. build new freeways lanes costing billions $$.

To councilman Rosendahl is this for your own political gain ? running for future political office perhaps? The improvement of the covention center and having farmers field not only for football but a multipurpose facility used all year round sounds great.As a taxpayer and frequent visitor to L.A, LIVE , this would be nothing but and economic boost to downtown.


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