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Leiweke Says AEG Wants To Have
A Stadium Deal In Place By March
AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke yesterday presented his company's vision for downtown L.A., specifically its "grand plan to build a state-of-the-art football stadium and bring the NFL back," according to Vincent Bonsignore of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Leiweke, addressing more than 300 L.A. execs at the JW Marriott Hotel at L.A. Live, said that he "hopes to have things wrapped up on that front within the next three months." By March '11, AEG aims to "have a deal in place with the city to build a privately funded $1 billion NFL stadium/events center on the site of the West Hall of the Convention Center." In addition, an "agreement will need to be reached with the NFL to return to Los Angeles with assurances from at least one existing team to eventually move here." Leiweke stressed that he is "confident those agreements will be in place," based on his "conversations with city leadership" and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Leiweke said of the NFL, "They want to get it done, they want to get back to L.A. Roger Goodell believes in L.A. and he wants to get a team here desperately. And the owners want to get a team here." But if "no agreements are in place, Leiweke doesn't foresee AEG sticking around much longer waiting on one." He said, "We'll move on and let others have at it" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/9). Leiweke: "We’re going to give this our best shot over the next three months. This is the second-largest marketplace in the United States and we’re going to act like it" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 12/9).
FULL SPEED AHEAD: Leiweke at yesterday's gathering said that AEG's "architectural review process for a South Park stadium with a retractable roof has already begun." He noted that 12 architects have submitted designs for the stadium, and AEG "expects to conduct interviews with the architecture firms next week and to cut the list to about two designers." Leiweke said that the company "plans to make a decision in January." He previously indicated that he "hopes a new stadium would host the 2016 Super Bowl" (LADOWNTOWNNEWS.com, 12/8). Leiweke "promised he wouldn't be showing off models and drawings of the proposed stadium for the next couple of years while the city and league continue to drag their feet." He said that AEG "doesn't need to own an NFL team to start construction on the downtown stadium and shot down reports" that AEG Chair Phil Anschutz has acquired a stake in the Chargers (ESPNLA.com, 12/8).
GET IT OUT IN THE OPEN: In St. Paul, John Shipley reported Goodell will meet with Minnesota's "top business leaders when he visits the Vikings later this month as part of the team's 50th anniversary celebration," and the "No. 1 topic of discussion is expected to be the Vikings' efforts to build a new stadium." Goodell is scheduled to be in Minneapolis for the Bears-Vikings "MNF" game on Dec. 20, and while in town will be a "guest at a luncheon of the Minnesota Business Partnership, which has members of the state's biggest business, such as 3M, Best Buy, Target and General Mills." He also "will be part of a fan forum" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/8).
Sports architects HKS and HNTB and L.A. Live designer Gensler are the three finalists to plan AEG’s proposed downtown L.A. stadium, according to industry sources. Interviews are scheduled for Dec. 15. AEG officials would not confirm the finalists other than to say the initial 12 proposals have been cut down. Dallas-based HKS designed Cowboys Stadium, the facility AEG is using as the model for its stadium, whose primary tenant would be an NFL team. The new facility, called the L.A. Event Center, would also compete for the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four and major college football games. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, another HKS design, played host to the '10 Final Four and will be the site of the '12 Super Bowl. HNTB designed Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver and is working for the 49ers to develop a new NFL stadium in Santa Clara. The K.C.-based company also designed USC’s Galen Center, a college basketball arena in L.A. Gensler designed Club Nokia, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Residences and the J.W. Marriott Hotel. All three properties are part of L.A. Live, the entertainment district across the street from Staples Center and the site for the proposed event center. AEG helped develop L.A. Live. Gensler Dir of Sports & Entertainment Ron Turner was part of NBBJ’s team that designed Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
NOT IN THE RUNNING: Other architects that submitted proposals for AEG’s deal included Aecom Ellerbe Becket, designer of Qwest Field in Seattle and renovations to FedExField, Lambeau Field and the Louisiana Superdome, and 360 Architecture, designer of New Meadowlands Stadium, the NFL’s newest facility. Populous, a firm whose architects have done design work for 30 NFL stadiums, did not respond to AEG’s proposal, Populous officials confirmed. Populous is involved in a competing NFL stadium project in City of Industry, about 20 miles east of downtown L.A. Dan Meis, a Senior Principal who joined Populous in September, has been working the past three years to design an $800M stadium for Majestic Realty Chair & CEO Ed Roski.
THE BLUEPRINT: AEG’s plan is to develop a stadium with up to 72,000 fixed seats, 14,700 club seats and 40 field-level suites among its 218 skyboxes, according to the proposal issued by project manager Icon Venue Group. Cowboys Stadium has 48 event-level suites among 320 total skyboxes. The plan involves tearing down part of the L.A. Convention Center to make room for the event center. The total project cost of $1B includes $750M to build the stadium.
While Chargers Will Stay At Qualcomm Stadium
For '11, Team Would Not Commit For '12
The Chargers informed the city of San Diego yesterday that they are "not triggering the termination clause" in their Qualcomm Stadium lease for '11, according to Nick Canepa of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The Chargers have the "option to do that every year from Feb. 1 through May 1 until their contract expires" in '20. The team, however, "stopped short of any guarantees past 2011 -- no one thought it would be going anywhere before 2012 anyway -- as it continues its attempt to get a new downtown stadium built." Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani and President & CEO Dean Spanos "refuse to commit" to staying in San Diego beyond next season. Spanos said, "No good businessman is going to lock himself up unless there’s certainty. ... You’re never going to say never. It’s unfair to ask any businessman to make a long-term commitment. It’s not good business practice." He added, "It's not a question of our commitment, but can the city get something done." Canepa notes rumors that the team "could be headed" to L.A. have "heated up since the Spanos family hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for 36 percent of the franchise, saying it needed the sale to help pay for estate taxes when owner Alex Spanos and wife Faye die." It is believed that "one of the suitors" is AEG, which is planning to build an NFL stadium in downtown L.A. But Fabiani said, "Every time somebody comes up with a new stadium idea in L.A., people think we’re moving. We can talk until we’re blue in the face. This is exactly the same as 2008" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 12/9).
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD? Fabiani yesterday said, "With the holidays coming up we had a choice of making the announcement now or waiting until after the first of the year. In light of the rumors swirling about Los Angeles over the last week or so, we decided we should make the announcement now" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 12/9). The AP noted the Chargers could seek "hundreds of millions of dollars" in public funding for a new stadium, and at the moment are "determining whether or not a measure can be placed on the ballot in 2012." Fabiani said, "Obviously if we get something on the ballot in 2012, we'll be playing here in 2012. If at the end of 2011 there's no support for a financing plan from city leaders, obviously at that point we'd have to look at other options" (AP, 12/8).
A NEW STADIUM OF THEIR OWN: Raiders Chief Exec Amy Trask said, "There will be a new stadium for the Raiders, it’s on the horizon and it’s very exciting." The Raiders are "committed to playing" at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through the '13 NFL season, and Trask noted that the "team's priority is to stay in Oakland." But she said the Raiders "have an open mind about sharing a stadium" with the 49ers (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 12/9).
NASCAR HOF Posts Profit Of Just Under
$40,000 For Month Of October
In Charlotte, Steve Harrison reports the NASCAR HOF “posted a profit of just under $40,000 in October, shrinking its cumulative loss to $408,000.” The hall drew 27,555 visitors in October, and “hosted 25 special events that also boosted revenue.” But the HOF is “still struggling to meet expectations: The original budget projected an operating profit of $255,391 for the month and a profit of $1.1 million for the first four months of the fiscal year that began in July.” HOF officials have said that they “need to attract roughly 350,000" fans this fiscal year to break even. Harrison notes it is “unlikely the hall will hit that mark” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/9).
ALL BETS ARE OFF -- FOR NOW: In New Jersey, Ginger Gibson reports New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie yesterday “vetoed the racing schedules for Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands, citing the need for more time to review a report that recommended scrapping racing at one park and reducing days at another.” The New Jersey Racing Commission met last month and “established a full racing schedule that would have included 141 races at each park.” A week after the schedule was approved, a special state panel “called for the end to live racing at the Meadowlands Racetrack, consolidating those operations with the Monmouth Park track in Oceanport and selling both tracks to private interests” (Bergen RECORD, 12/9).
IS THE GRASS GREENER? NFL players have said that the “playing surface at Soldier Field is the worst in the league.” Bears QB Jay Cutler: “We probably have one of the worst fields in the league at this point. We did last year, as well.” The field has been resodded since the Bears’ last home game, but “nobody is expecting changes at Soldier Field any time soon.” Bears President & CEO Ted Phillips has said that he is “awaiting ongoing studies on player safety before making any decisions.” The Chicago Park District “maintains the stadium as a multipurpose venue, and other events require grass fields” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/9).
BRICK BY BRICK: In Chicago, Ed Sherman noted with the “on-going discussion about what to do with Wrigley and who is going to foot the bill, it seems the new ballpark alternative should be at least thrown on the table.” Sherman: “Does it make sense to pump in another $200 million for a facility that is going to turn 100 in 2014? From the little we've seen of the plans, it still looks like a cut-and-paste job to me. … Nostalgia is great, but going forward, will the renovations allow Wrigley Field to keep up with what's in store for the 21st century?” With a new ballpark, the Cubs “would have a better chance to adjust to what could be an incredible century of innovation in stadiums” (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 12/6).