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Agreement gives proposed NFL stadium in Industry a boost

September 24, 2009 | 10:31 am


Efforts to build an NFL stadium in the City of Industry took a step forward today when officials there and in neighboring Walnut agreed to settle a lawsuit aimed at derailing the plan.

Walnut had sued the City of Industry to block the stadium, saying it would cause traffic and quality-of-life problems.

Under the settlement, Walnut would get several things from Industry, according to a statement released from the City of Industry.

"Key features of the agreement include additional traffic mitigation and safety measures, noise monitoring and resolution processes, citizen and business working groups to focus on ongoing safety and traffic concerns related to the operation of the project, as well as reimbursement for the City of Walnut’s legal and consulting fees," the statement said. "Further the cities of Industry and Walnut along with the developer will collaborate on securing increased public transit service for event day."

A second lawsuit brought by a Walnut community group has not yet been resolved.

Since the Raiders and Rams left Southern California after the 1994 season, several developers have come forward with grand but ultimately unrealized plans for bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles.

Plans have been floated for stadiums in Carson, downtown Los Angeles, Anaheim and Pasadena's Rose Bowl. But at least for now, the proposal attracting the attention of state and local officials is developer Ed Roski Jr.'s plan to build an $800-million NFL stadium near the junction of the 57 and 60 freeways in the City of Industry.

But football fans should not get their hopes up quite yet.

Even if Roski can clear the remaining legal and zoning thicket, it remains unclear whether such a large project -- which would include retail and office space, as well as practice fields and banquet facilities -- could get construction loans amid the credit crunch. (This issue has stalled several other mega-projects in Southern California, including the Frank Gehry-designed Grand Avenue development in downtown Los Angeles.)

Another big issue is naming rights, which would be a major source of new revenue for the stadium. Amid the recession, companies have shown little interest in big naming contracts at stadiums, including new NFL venues in Dallas and New York.

And then there's the question of whether a team can be persuaded to move to L.A. John Semcken, a vice president at Roski's Majestic Realty, has said that he hopes to have a team committed to the new stadium as early as next year.

But some NFL watchers said that is unlikely, given that much of the National Football League's efforts in the coming months will be focused on avoiding a lockout or strike, as the current players' collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2010 season. If there is a work stoppage, it might further delay the NFL's return to the nation's second-largest media market. The league would be facing sharply declining revenue if the season were to be curtailed or postponed.

In an interview with The Times last month, Roski said that he and his company "are determined to do it."

"The goal is worthwhile, so you have to keep working at it," he said.

--Cara Mia DiMassa and Sam Farmer