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NFL stadium: Villaraigosa against waiving environmental rules

August 16, 2011 |  1:00 pm

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Magic Johnson
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa may be a cheerleader for the proposal to build an NFL stadium downtown, but he said Tuesday he is skeptical about the idea of the Legislature giving the project an exemption from environmental lawsuits.

"I don’t think they are going to do that, and I don’t think they should," Villaraigosa said in an interview with reporters in The Times' Sacramento bureau. "I think the public wants a level of transparency, and I think we’ve had it up to now."

Stadium developer Anschutz Entertainment Group is working on state legislation to limit the type of legal challenges that could be pursued based on environmental issues.

AEG Chief Executive Tim Leiweke said last week his firm is asking for "protection from frivolous lawsuits from those who are trying to get a competitive advantage or those who are just trying to destroy the process."

Legislation has not yet been introduced, but a state Senate committee is holding a public hearing next week to determine whether lawmakers should grant AEG protection from lawsuits similar to what they approved for a competing football stadium proposed in the city of Industry.

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council approved the outline of a deal that would have the city issue $275 million in bonds to allow for demolition and reconstruction of the Convention Center's West Hall to make way for the stadium.

Most of the borrowing would be paid back with revenue from the stadium and center, including parking and property taxes.

Villaraigosa said Tuesday he feels good about the negotiations.

"I want a football team," he said, adding, "We aren’t going to give a tax giveaway here. We’ve drafted a very strong memorandum of understanding. Ultimately, I believe  having a world-class convention center and football stadium is going to be great for L.A.’’

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-- Patrick McGreevy

Photo: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and businessman Magic Johnson give their support to the proposed NFL stadium downtown. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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