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Statewide sports authority may tackle California rivalries

February 7, 2011 |  5:10 pm

A California lawmaker proposed Monday to create a statewide sports authority to weigh in on disputes such as one brewing between rival football stadiums proposed in the cities of Industry and Los Angeles.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation to create the authority with the aim of eliminating intrastate conflicts in the procurement of sports teams, as well as helping to finance sports stadiums.

Ammiano’s proposal was made after watching the cities of Santa Clara and San Francisco spar for years over which one will be the future home of the 49ers football team, said Quintin Mecke, a spokesman for the lawmaker. But he is well aware of the rival Southern California stadium plans and reports that Industry’s developer might try to lure the San Diego Chargers north.

"Rather than continuing to pit cities and counties against each other in a public turf battle of local governments, we need to move to a more efficient system for dealing with professional sports teams," Ammiano said in a statement. "A statewide sports authority would coordinate regional efforts to keep and procure professional teams...''

California is home to five Major League Baseball teams, three National Football League teams and several other professional sports squads, he noted.

The language of the legislation is still being finalized, and it has not been determined yet how much power a statewide sports authority would have to block one California city from attempting to take a team away from another city in the state.

Although the intent is to allow the state authority to somehow work on financial assistance for stadiums, the developers proposing to bring NFL teams to Industry and Los Angeles have said they do not plan to use public funds to build their stadiums.

A digest of the bill notes that one stadium has been given a waiver from state environmental laws, but Mecke said the legislation is not proposed to allow the L.A. stadium a similar exemption.

-- Patrick McGreevy