SBD/April 6, 2012/Facilities

AEG Delivers EIR To L.A. City Council For Downtown Stadium

Leiweke said he thinks the earliest L.A. could get a new stadium is '17
AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke Thursday presented the company's "long-awaited environmental impact report to City Hall on Thursday" for its $1.4B proposed Farmers Field football stadium in downtown L.A., according to Arash Markazi of ESPN L.A. The 10,000-page report took 18 months to complete and cost $27M. The EIR will be subject to public comment for 45 days "after it is released and if city officials approve the EIR and the project, there will then be a 30-day window for legal challenges, which will be resolved within" 175 days. Farmers Field "would be in position to begin construction" by next March if everything goes according to plan, "similar to a competing stadium proposed" by Majestic Realty Chair & CEO Ed Roski in the City of Industry. Leiweke said, "In the best-case scenario, no matter which site you look at, if you move a team next March and you go to design drawings and pushing dirt, figure that it's probably about a four-year process to build the stadium. So I think the earliest any of us could be in a new stadium is 2017. Maybe there is a way financially to get that going a little quicker but I doubt it" (ESPNLA.com, 4/5). In San Diego, Matthew Hall notes if city officials approve the EIR and the project, the subsequent timeline "means it's likely the process wouldn't play out until next year." NFL teams "wouldn't have to notify the league of a potential move until mid-February" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/6). Leiweke said, "It's safe to assume if we're sitting here in 2014 and chasing a team, that our interest not only wanes but probably disappears at some point during that year." Leiweke added that he "is 'very' concerned about the imposition by the other 31 owners of a relocation fee that would disrupt the economics of the plan."  Though he "didn’t identify the specific amount that would kill the deal," Leiweke said that a $1B "relocation fee will not be paid" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 4/4).

NEW WAY OF LIFE: In L.A., Zahniser & Bloomekatz report AEG is "counting on a dramatic change in the behavior of L.A. sports fans," as the EIR "bets 1 in 4 ticket buyers would come to the 72,000-seat venue without a car on weekdays." Leiweke said, "We have to change people's habits from the day they buy their first ticket to Farmers Field." Zahniser & Bloomekatz note the "push to limit the number of cars arriving" at the proposed stadium is "tied to legislation passed last year to speed the project's environmental review process." Company officials said that the law "requires that AEG operate a stadium with fewer car trips than any other NFL facility in the nation." The EIR assumes that more than 18% of ticket buyers "would show up at weekend events without using cars." For weekday games, that figure would reach 27%. Leiweke said that AEG "plans to give ticket buyers discounts and even bump them up in line for available tickets if they take public transit" (L.A. TIMES, 4/6). In California, Dakota Smith notes to "help ease traffic" for the stadium, AEG is "proposing to widen freeway ramps, direct fans to public transit and use smartphone technology to point out available parking spots." But the company's "most ambitious proposal would involve widening the notoriously bottlenecked northbound Hollywood (101) Freeway, where traffic leaving downtown is consistently jammed." AEG has committed $2.5M to "study adding a lane to a roughly one-mile stretch" (SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE, 4/6).
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