As it relates to the question of a return by the NFL to Los Angeles, conventional wisdom has been that the league won’t become seriously interested unless and until two viable projects emerge. That way, the NFL could play one against the other, securing the best possible circumstances for its return to the L.A. area.
Now that two proposals have emerged in Los Angeles, it appears that they’re ready to square off without much squeezing by the league.
According to our pal Brooks of SportsByBrooks.com, the folks behind the downtown L.A. proposal possibly have been giving courtside Lakers tickets to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Per Brooks, FOX 11 has reported that Villaraigosa has been parking his posterior in seats that cost $3,000 each. He didn’t pay for the tickets, and he didn’t report the tickets as gifts in ethics filings.
He claims (apparently with a straight face) that he has attended the games on “official business,” in order to give academic awards to local high school students, on multiple occasions.
Staples Center is owned and operated by AEG, which is one of the companies involved in the downtown stadium proposal.
Villaraigosa refuses to say how he got the tickets, and AEG CEO Tim Leiweke is mum on the matter, too.
Meanwhile, Brooks points out that a recent poll in L.A. Business Journal regarding the downtown site and Ed Roski’s proposal in the City of Industry generated 30,000 votes, way up from the usual response in the range of 100. The two camps reportedly launched e-mail campaigns aimed at getting votes.
So the battle lines are being drawn, the gloves are coming off, and the NFL will end up getting a great deal.
We hope the folks in Minnesota are paying close attention.