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LA City Hall plots out Convention Center's future without NFL team

For city leaders, part of the appeal of bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles was the promise of new convention space. With the Farmers Field deal in limbo, city leaders are now planning for a future without an NFL stadium.
For city leaders, part of the appeal of bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles was the promise of new convention space. With the Farmers Field deal in limbo, city leaders are now planning for a future without an NFL stadium. Anschutz Entertainment Group

The City of Los Angeles is still holding out hope of getting a professional football team into the proposed Farmers Field stadium, but with no prospects on the horizon, city leaders are turning their attention to other uses for the downtown space.

The Los Angeles City Council approved an agreement with the Anschutz Entertainment Group last fall that would allow the Convention Center’s West Hall to be knocked down to make way for a football stadium. A new space, tentatively called Pico Hall, would be built contiguous to the existing South Hall. The agreement, however, will expire in October 2014.

NFL owners declined to move a team to Los Angeles for the 2013 season. Earlier this month, AEG owner Philip Anschutz announced that the company, which had been on the market, is no longer for sale. The departure of AEG CEO Tim Leiweke, who had pushed through the deal with the city, was announced at the same time. Anschutz has said he will continue to push for an NFL team here.

RELATED: What does Leiweke's departure from AEG mean for an NFL stadium in Los Angeles?

“We’ve been wanting to go to the dance so to speak, but yet there’s no dance,” Councilman Tom LaBonge said of the process to get a football team. He spoke Wednesday at a meeting of the L.A. City Council's Ad Hoc Stadium Committee.

With the 2014 date in mind, council members are looking at other options for the West Hall space. Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes the L.A. Live complex and Convention Center, asked city officials to meet with the Urban Land Institute to look at possible uses for the space.

The city’s goal continues to be renovation of the Convention Center, according to the city’s chief legislative analyst.

“Achieving an NFL franchise here was not the end, in and of itself," said Gary Miller. "It was the means to an end to refurbishing our Convention Center so that it were competitive for conventions. That work still needs to be done."

Without a stadium, construction on the Convention Center would likely be pushed to 2015 or 2016, Miller said. 

A framework on options for the Convention Center, including how to finance a renovation, will be completed in the next 30 to 60 days. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, meanwhile, continues to push for privatization of the Convention Center.  He leaves office on June 30. 

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