SBD/February 9, 2011/Facilities

Leiweke Defends AEG's L.A. NFL Plan, Reiterates No Taxpayer Money

Leiweke says formal proposal for stadium should be presented this week
AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke yesterday "shot back at skeptics" of the company's proposed NFL stadium in downtown L.A. and "reiterated his pledge that 'not a penny' of taxpayer money would be spent on the mega-project," according to Patrick McDonnell of the L.A. TIMES. Several L.A. City Council members have "voiced reservations" about the project "at a time when the city is facing a fiscal crisis that could result in additional layoffs, furloughs and service cuts." As part of the stadium deal, the city "would lease land to AEG and issue $350 million in bonds for a renovation of the adjacent convention center." Leiweke "vowed to make up any financing gap if revenue from the stadium and a rebuilt convention center fall short." He said the city is "never going to have to pay a penny -- and we're going to guarantee it." Leiweke: "Will everyone just take a deep breath and have a little faith that we're not going to lie to people? We're going to do the right thing. Calm down. ... There's no tricks. There's no risks." Leiweke said that a "formal stadium proposal should be presented this week." He added, "When the proposal gets there, everyone's going to take a deep breath and realize: There is zero risk to the taxpayer. This is people trying to scare people. And it's a shame." Leiweke said that the NFL has "reacted enthusiastically to the stadium proposal." Leiweke: "They love L.A. They want us to get this done." Still, City Council member Paul Krekorian, "who has urged caution on the stadium plan," yesterday said that "detailed studies on the fiscal, environmental and traffic ramifications of the stadium proposal were needed" (L.A. TIMES, 2/9).

NOT SO IMPARTIAL? The AP's Jacob Adelman reported the L.A. business leaders selected by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to "analyze plans for a downtown NFL stadium on the public's behalf seem to have one thing in common: deep financial, political and civic ties" with AEG. Villaraigosa's panel includes former California Gov. Gray Davis, who "received generous donations from entities connected" to AEG Chair Philip Anschutz. The panel also includes entertainment execs who "have partnered with the firm or its affiliates" and business owners "who have served alongside" Leiweke on local boards and commissions. Adelman wrote that makeup "could cast doubt on its ability to objectively evaluate the stadium project" (AP, 2/8).

PROMOTIONAL EFFORT: In L.A., David Zahniser reported Villaraigosa's office "shot a video to promote the city's quest for an NFL team -- a production that features firefighters, mariachis, a surfer and, of course, the mayor himself." Villaraigosa in the spot "promises viewers that taxpayer money will not be used to build" the stadium. Villaraigosa: "This project will be 100% privately funded, but not by me. Who do you think I am? Mayor Bloomberg?" (LATIMES.com, 2/7).
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NFL, Football, AEG, Facilities

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