SBD/October 1, 2012/Facilities

L.A. City Council Unanimously Approves AEG's Proposed Farmers Field NFL Stadium Project

The Farmers Field project would include an NFL stadium and convention hall
The L.A. City Council on Friday by a vote of 12-0 “approved the environmental impact report” for AEG’s proposed 72,000-seat Farmers Field NFL stadium and adjoining city convention center hall, according to Dakota Smith of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. The move “paves the way for construction of the stadium -- if a professional football team agrees to relocate” to L.A. City officials by backing the stadium and convention plan “showed their strong political support and deep trust of AEG -- a company with an uncertain future since it was put up for sale.” Lakers investor Patrick Soon-Shiong, who is “one of the potential bidders for AEG,” sat in the front row near AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke. The pair were “drawing much attention.” Hollywood film producer and real estate developer Steve Bing “also attended the hearing.” Both Soon-Shiong and Bing “quietly left after the vote, but their presence sent the message that deep-pocketed potential buyers are watching the stadium deal” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/29). In L.A., Zahniser & Linthicum noted Friday’s action “could prove to be a fruitless exercise” if AEG “fails to fulfill its most crucial obligation: persuading the NFL to move a team to Los Angeles.” Majestic Realty’s competing stadium plan in the City of Industry “could strengthen the NFL's negotiating position.” AEG’s stadium plan had “strong backing from labor unions and the business community, who see it as a way to create thousands of jobs.” But the project “still faces opposition -- and a lawsuit -- from anti-poverty activists who want AEG to contribute $60 million for affordable housing.” Leiweke “apologized again to council members for the ‘dysfunction’ created by the sale announcement.” But he promised that any ownership change “would make it easier to secure a football team” (L.A. TIMES, 9/29).

RACE IS ON: In Boston, Greg Bedard wrote, "The race is now on to see which NFL team dives into the city.” NFL rules state that any teams interested in relocating "have to submit an application by the first six weeks of 2013.” That would “put relocation on the docket for the March league meetings.” The date “seems a bit rushed, so 2014 is a better target.” Bedard wrote, “The likely candidates: Raiders, Chargers, Rams, Jaguars, and Bills” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/30).

WHO ARE THE SUITORS? In L.A., Sam Farmer asked Leiweke if AEG Chair Philip Anschutz was “ever really interested in the NFL,” and if so, "why did he walk away from this deal?” Leiweke said, “No question that the NFL has been a management push. But you don't spend $40 million, use that kind of time and energy, put yourself in these kinds of public negotiations without him being fully on board. He was always on board with it. He'll be the first to acknowledge the next investor that steps into this role will be far more passionate probably about football, owning a team, and being a part of the NFL. And Phil's OK with that.” When asked if Soon-Shiong will be that next investor, Leiweke said, “I think Patrick is going to be one. There's a half-dozen people that Mr. Anschutz has heard from already. There are going to be many people that look at it with a view to do it.” Farmer asked if a new AEG owner would “still require a piece of a team at a discount.” Leiweke: “My guess is a new owner will be flexible in their thinking as to the kind of deal they will make.” Meanwhile, Leiweke said that the “idea for the location for Farmers Field” was that of Wasserman Media Chair & CEO Casey Wasserman. Leiweke: “He's always been a partner. When a team comes here, Casey's going to be a partner in it, if he so chooses, and I think he will” (L.A. TIMES, 9/30).
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