AEG successfully swept aside a key obstacle to its proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles Thursday by agreeing to help create a $15 million Housing Trust Fund for affordable housing units in the neighborhood.
“With this agreement, recent litigation filed by the Play Fair Coalition was dismissed, clearing the path for Farmers Field to proceed without any further legal obstacles,” said a joint statement from AEG and the Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition. Farmers Field is the name of the proposed stadium.
“This began as a legal negotiation but soon evolved into a cooperative dialogue about how we could work together,” AEG President Tim Leiweke said of his agreement to settle the coalition’s lawsuit. The coalition had challenge a special state law that expedited legal challenges to the project.
The statement said AEG has agreed to a wide range of community benefits and measures, including air quality improvement projects, improvements serving bus riders, additional parks and open space, and a community team to promote health in the surrounding area.
Under the agreement, the housing units would be created in Pico-Union, South L.A. and downtown Los Angeles. Opponents of the project have argued that the stadium will drive up rents in the area and squeeze out affordable housing.
“This agreement demonstrates that economic development can go hand in hand with important environmental objectives around air quality, health promotion and reduction of automobile trips,” said Martha Dina Arguello, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
The Legal Aid Foundation, a group that had been threatening to file a California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit on behalf of the coalition against the stadium, also dropped that effort.
“We are excited about the opportunity for our foundations, our corporate partners and the rest of the philanthropic community to play an active role in leveraging the good will of AEG and Farmers Field to help deliver even greater benefits to those most in need,” Lieweke said. “With this important milestone, for the first time in almost two decades the City of Los Angeles is finally poised to see the return of the NFL.”
It appears the biggest challenge now facing AEG is attracting a professional football team.
Leading contenders include the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers. NFL owners must sign off on any deal, which likely would include AEG owning a part of the team. The owners next meeting is in March 2013.
AEG is up for sale by its owner, Denver Billionaire Philip Anschutz. Leiweke has said any sale would not affect the company’s plan to build a football stadium.
Developer Ed Roski, who owns Majestic Realty, has proposed a rival stadium for the City of Industry. But NFL owners reportedly are more interested in a stadium in L.A.
This story has been updated