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Over 150 attend session on downtown L.A. stadium plan

March 30, 2011 |  5:19 pm

More than 150 people turned out Wednesday at the start of the first public session devoted to the environmental impacts that would be caused by a proposed football stadium next to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Organizers of the "scoping meeting" for Farmers Field -- being held from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Los Angeles Convention Center -- asked participants to fill out comment cards and place them in cardboard boxes in the back of the room.

In attendance were lobbyists, carpenters, land-use consultants and transit activists, among others.

"We want to ensure that this project is truly beneficial to the city of L.A.," said Gabriel Strachota, an organizer with the Bus Riders Union, an advocacy group.

City officials scheduled the event to solicit public comments for an upcoming environmental impact report on the proposed $1-billion stadium, which would rise on the current site of the Convention Center’s West Hall. Under the proposal, the West Hall would be demolished and a new wing of the facility would be constructed nearby. That plan has been billed as a way to attract larger conventions to Los Angeles by giving the building more continuous convention space.

Anschutz Entertainment Group, developer of adjacent Staples Center and L.A. Live, has promised to use its own funds to pay for the stadium. But the city would need to issue $350 million in bonds to cover the cost of the new Convention Center wing -- money that would be paid back with ticket tax revenue, property tax revenue and some private funds from AEG.

AEG officials have left open the possibility that they will seek legislation to shield the stadium's environmental impact report from legal challenges.

"That's not contemplated today," said Sean Dee, chief marketing officer of AEG Worldwide. "Certainly we could contemplate it in the future. But today we're here to listen to our community."

The stadium plan was greeted enthusiastically by Nattabai Ahmed, president of Independent Taxi Co. He said the stadium would be another step toward making Angelenos -- and football fans in particular -- more welcoming to taxis.

"Because of the traffic situation here, they might have to park a mile, two miles away" and hail a cab to the stadium, he said.

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall