SBD/August 22, 2011/Facilities

Leiweke: AEG Does Not Want To Work With L.A. Memorial Coliseum Commission

Leiweke says AEG has not talked to Chargers in quite some time
AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke said that L.A. Memorial Coliseum "would be in play as a temporary home for a relocated NFL team only if it was USC -- and not the Coliseum Commission -- that cut the deal," according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. AEG has discussed an NFL team playing at the facility while Farmers Field is under construction, and Leiweke said, "There is no way the Coliseum works for us in its current situation, whether a team is playing there for one year or four years. There is no way economically we are the engine that drives a renovation." Part of AEG's tentative agreement with the city of L.A. calls for the firm to "make its best effort to use the Coliseum, rather than housing" the NFL team at the Rose Bowl. Leiweke: "There is no question in my mind that if USC has the ability to run that building, we'd be able to make a deal with USC." But L.A. City Council member Bernard Parks said that AEG "cannot force the commission to the sideline just because it prefers to deal with USC." Meanwhile, Leiweke also "responded sharply to a recent comment" by Chargers Special Counsel Mark Fabiani that it "would require a 'miracle' for AEG to break ground on a stadium project by next year." Leiweke said, "I think the problem with the Chargers is, (Fabiani) can sit here and talk about all the things we need to go through, but the last time I checked, they've been doing it for 10 years and they're nowhere. And the difference between us and them is we've got a guy willing to write a check for a billion. They've got zero financing, zero entitlements, zero design, zero deal with the city, and zero property that ultimately is not contaminated. Good luck." The Chargers have been mentioned as a possible tenant for Farmers Field, but Farmer reported AEG Chair Phil Anschutz and Chargers President Dean Spanos are "far apart on how much of the team would be sold and for what price." Leiweke: "We haven't talked to the Chargers in a while" (L.A. TIMES, 8/21).

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: A Riverside PRESS-ENTERPRISE editorial stated California legislators last week were "quietly exploring ways to protect a proposed football stadium from legal obstacles." AEG "worries that 'frivolous lawsuits' under the state's environmental laws might tie up the project for years, and wants the Legislature to head off that prospect." No one "has introduced legislation yet, but just why the Legislature should intervene at all is not clear." The editorial continued, "Legislators should drop any plans to exempt a football stadium project from lawsuits. If legislators believe such legal challenges abuse state law, they should fix the rules for everyone -- and not just for those with money and political pull" (Riverside PRESS-ENTERPRISE, 8/20).
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