Proposal Would Alter California Law, Allowing Billboard Ads Next To Farmers Field
California state Sen. Alex Padilla has “a plan to allow electronic billboard ads that are currently banned by state law -- including pitches for beer and gambling -- next to a proposed NFL stadium” in L.A., according to Patrick McGreevy of the L.A. TIMES. Activists opposed to the proposal said that lawmakers “intend the measure as special treatment” for AEG Chair Philip Anschutz, whose Farmers Field project is the subject of the legislation. The proposal would “allow the billboards to advertise any product with which the stadium operator has a sponsorship agreement, which could include such things as cars, television sets and insurance.” Although existing California law “requires billboards to be on sports arena property, Padilla's bill would allow them up to 1,000 feet away from the possible new stadium ... and at nearby freeway offramps.” Padilla said that taxpayers “don't want to pay for new professional sports venues.” He added, "So … you have to be creative in finances.” Cities would “be able to adopt ordinances controlling the location and operation of the billboards under his proposal” (L.A. TIMES, 4/14).
CHANGE OF COURSE: In Denver, Andy Vuong profiled Anschutz’ vision for AEG, and wrote the “still-notoriously private tycoon is once again raising his public profile to prove his commitment to bringing an NFL team back to L.A.” Last month, he "removed the 'for sale' sign from AEG" and “announced the departure of longtime right-hand man” former President & CEO Tim Leiweke. With the “abrupt departure” of Leiweke, who was Farmers Field’s “frontman, Anschutz embarked on a Southern California publicity tour.” Area sportswriters and business officials were “taken aback not only by his decision to grant his first extensive media interview in decades, but by the sight of Anschutz sitting courtside at an L.A. Lakers game at Staples Center.” The change “clashed with Anschutz's reputation as a dealmaker content with staying behind the scenes.” The recent media tour was “a calculated move by Anschutz to spread the message that he is still interested in bringing an NFL team back to L.A.” Some observers said that the “question mark over the NFL stadium was a key reason Anschutz couldn't sell AEG.” Anschutz “wants to control the stadium's operations but not the team that plays in it, an unusual arrangement that the league and team owners apparently aren't fond of” (DENVER POST, 4/14).