Patt Morrison for August 29, 2011

Tackling the economic impact of a NFL stadium in downtown L.A.: maybe not as great as advertised

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa greets Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of AEG, during an event announcing naming rights for the new football stadium Farmers Field at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 1, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

It was supposed to be an economic boon, not only to downtown Los Angeles but to the entire city.

The construction of a new stadium, to house a new NFL team in L.A., was predicted to create thousands of immediate jobs and thousands more over the life of a massive sports complex that would be host to all kinds of entertainment events, from concerts to track-and-field exhibitions. The reality of the economic impact of the proposed Farmers Field might be more pessimistic after the Legislative Analyst Office looked over projections of the new stadium and found that studies by the city and AEG “overstated the economic benefits” of the $1.2 billion project. Instead of creating new spending the affect of Farmers Field would seem to be a shifting of dollars—since many consumers, especially in these lousy economic times, have fixed entertainment incomes the dollars that they are spending at the new stadium won’t be spent elsewhere. While downtown might prosper when Farmers Field is up and running the rest of L.A. city and county might actually suffer in the shadow of a new entertainment venue. All of this came up during a hearing in front of the California Senate Select Committee on Sports & Entertainment, which is looking at shielding AEG from potential lawsuits over environmental regulations during the course of building the stadium. With so much being promised in the long-running quest to bring the NFL back to L.A., will the city and the region see positive, tangible benefits or just unfulfilled hype?

Guest:

Jan Perry, Los Angeles City Council President Pro Tem representing District 9

Andrew Zimbalist, Robert A.Woods professor of economics at Smith College; author of Circling the Bases, Essays on the Challenges and Prospects of the Sports Industry


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