AEG's Leiweke pitches football stadium for downtown Los Angeles

AEG proposes to build a football stadium adjacent L.A. Live and Staples Center, which it also owns.
AEG proposes to build a football stadium adjacent L.A. Live and Staples Center, which it also owns.

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The head of Anschutz Entertainment Group made big promises to members of the L.A. City Council Wednesday as he lobbied to build an NFL football stadium downtown.

AEG chief Tim Leiweke told members of a City Council committee that an NFL football stadium downtown would spur significant economic development.

“A catalyst that will be probably the largest economic development in the history of downtown Los Angeles," Leiweke told members of the City Council's Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee.

His appearance was the formal launch of what's expected to be a massive lobbying effort to win approval for the project at City Hall. Developer Ed Roski has a competing proposal for a football stadium in the City of Industry.

"I think it will be the catalyst for creating 20- to 30,000 jobs ongoing because of the impact it will have on the convention business," Leiweke said of the project that would include renovation of the city's aging convention center.

AEG, which built and owns Staples Center and L.A. Live, wants to demolish the West Hall of the L.A. Convention Center and build a football stadium with as many as 78,000 seats. The project could top $1 billion.

Leiweke proposes that the city issue a $350 million bond to pay for a new West Hall, parking lot and debt. He said if new tax revenues failed to repay the bond, Anschutz would cover the shortfall.

"In other words, [there will be] zero risk to the general fund, zero money coming from the general fund. There will be no public dollars invested in the stadium," Leiweke said.

City officials said they’d need to examine whether L.A. could afford to float new bonds, given its bleak budget picture. They also expressed concern about the $440 million L.A. still owed on the convention center.

Leiweke dismissed concerns that a football stadium would create a traffic nightmare. He said of 10 NFL games a year, nine would occur on normally quiet Sunday afternoons. The stadium could host other events too.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn wondered whether AEG had made any progress attracting an NFL team.

“Nice to have a stadium but we really want a team," Hahn said.

"We have spent time with the teams that are currently trying to figure out a way to get a new stadium built in their community," Leiweke said. "We are very certain that there is going to be one if not two teams that are going to be in a situation where they are going to have to move to solve that problem."

NFL owners would have to agree to allow a team to move to L.A.

The council committee voted to create a working group on the stadium, and conduct a financial analysis of the AEG proposal.

KPCC wire services contributed to this story