Last week, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports painted a bleak picture regarding the construction of an NFL stadium in Downtown Los Angeles. We thereafter explained that the AEG-backed project remains very much alive.
Now, AEG president Tim Leiweke has broken his recent silence, defending the project and knocking down the notion that the new buyers of the Dodgers will crash the pro football party in L.A.
“How many deals have we done in this town?” Leiweke told a newspaper. (Yep, if the “newspaper” is going to refer to Cole’s story on Yahoo! in condescending 2001 style as an “Internet report,” then the “newspaper” gets the same treatment from the Internet.) “How many things do we own? How many partnerships do we have? Everything we have ever announced in this town for 16 years we’ve finished. Have faith in us; we’ll get to the right place.”
Leiweke also is skeptical about the sudden emergence of the Dodgers Stadium area as a potential stadium location. “People who go around saying, ‘Dodger Stadium, Dodger Stadium,’ here’s the reality. How long did it take us to get a deal with the city of L.A.? Took us a year. We’ve just spent two years on an environmental impact report. And we didn’t have the neighborhood they have.
“Phil Anschutz has spent $27 million so far in cash on the EIR, which should be a good indication of our commitment.”
The EIR — shorthand for Environmental Impact Report — will be released Thursday. If/when the city approves the EIR and thereafter the stadium plan, a truncated period for resolving any legal challenges will commence. Before too long, the AEG project could be shovel-ready, just like the project in the City of Industry.
The key will be luring a team to town. And that may entail finding a team that can be purchased by AEG owner Philip Anschutz (pictured).
“Phil has committed a billion dollars privately to build a stadium and is prepared to spend another chunk if he has to buy the majority of a team,” Leiweke said. “You can publicly state that. He’s prepared to be a majority owner if that’s what it takes.”
That may indeed be what it takes. But that may be far easier said than done. First, Anschutz will have to find a willing seller. Then, he’ll have to emerge as the winning bidder. Then, he’ll have to secure approval to move the team to L.A., which surely will entail forking over a major “relocation fee” to the other 31 owners.
It’s not impossible, but it’s still an uphill climb with many pitfalls and hurdles.