Council leader pledges downtown stadium debate won't be rushed
Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti promised Tuesday that the panel will have plenty of time to debate a plan to bring an NFL stadium to downtown, seeking to soothe anxiety that a vote would be rushed.
Several council members expressed concern that they could feel pressured to approve the deal before July 31, a deadline that had been issued by Tim Leiweke, chief executive of Anschutz Entertainment Group. The Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment company is spearheading the project. Leiweke told The Times in June that the deal could be scuttled if the city failed to sign off on the framework of an agreement before officials recess for summer vacations.
AEG officials, however, are now saying they hope to get a vote on the project framework before the council begins a two-week recess on Aug. 20.
"We are pleased that the Farmers Field and Convention Center modernization project will be reviewed and publicly discussed by both the ad hoc committee and the full City Council by July 31, with the expectation that they would take action prior to the summer recess," AEG spokesman Michael Roth told The Times.
A team of city negotiators, led by Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller, is negotiating a draft memorandum of understanding with AEG in private. The city negotiators expect to release the results to an ad hoc council committee around July 22. The proposal will be published at http://downtownstadium.lacity.org.
The full 15-member City Council is expected to hear the proposal on July 29, Garcetti said. But he promised that they would not vote on the framework that day, giving both the council and the public time to study the proposal.
"We want to protect the public," Garcetti said.
AEG is looking for the city to issue more than $200 million in municipal bonds -- the company initially sought $350 million -- to relocate the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, which is where the NFL stadium would sit. It has promised that the city debt would be paid off by revenue streams created by the stadium project.
AEG is aiming to have the stadium ready for the 2016 NFL season, although the NFL has yet to award a franchise for a team to play in the city.
Garcetti's promise of a full vetting for the framework came after Councilman Bill Rosendahl suggested that the council begin reviewing the project immediately, which would have effectively taken the project away from the special stadium committee.
"We shouldn't have something thrown at us at the end of the month … because the developer says 'We gotta have it and we gotta have it now,' " Rosendahl said. "I'm worried about any hidden costs the city and the taxpayers might be stuck with."
The council rejected Rosendahl's motion 5 to 8. In addition to Rosendahl, Jose Huizar, Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian and Dennis Zine voted yes. Voting no were Richard Alarcon, Tony Cardenas, Mitchell Englander, Tom LaBonge, Bernard C. Parks, Jan Perry, Ed Reyes and Garcetti. Janice Hahn and Herb Wesson were absent.
-- Rong-Gong Lin II at Los Angeles City Hall
Image: A rendering of the proposed stadium. Credit: AEG Digital Group