AEG announces naming-rights deal for proposed downtown Los Angeles stadium
AEG formally announced the potentially richest stadium naming-rights deal in U.S. sports history Tuesday in a united effort that included city leaders, billionaires and sports legends.
"That's the most important message we can send: that we're unified," said Magic Johnson, who aspires to join the ownership of any NFL team that could opt to relocate to the new Farmers Field downtown. "In years past, we have not been united, and it cost us.
"We're united ... and that's the sentiment all over the city. The fans, the community want this bad."
In his first public comments about the stadium project, which would be linked to a renovated Convention Center and neighboring Staples Center, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, "It is very clear football is coming back to Los Angeles."
Villaraigosa said he'd monitored progress on the project for two years, when influential L.A. businessman Casey Wasserman described plans at City Hall.
The mayor has since visted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a December meeting in New York and said he had discussed the stadium destination with at least one NFL ownership group. Villaraigosa said Tuesday the project would not cost taxpayers "a dime."
AEG President Tim Leiweke said he envisioned hosting the 50th Super Bowl at Farmers Field in 2016 and had talked with Rose Bowl and Coliseum officials about serving as a temporary home to a relocated NFL team.
Leiweke said the interested teams were now aware "they get a piece of this [Farmers] money if they come here."
Among the crowd at the Convention Center announcement were NFL Hall of Famers Roosevelt Grier, Deacon Jones, Jim Brown and Mike Haynes.
City Councilwomen Jan Perry and Janice Hahn also praised the potential upside for the city.
"The naming rights is a big deal, a game-changer," Villaraigosa said. "It dispels the notion we're not going to build -- or can't build -- a new stadium."
-- Lance Pugmire
Image: the proposed downtown Los Angeles stadium. Credit: Associated Press