Public Money For NFL LA Stadium Not Pipe Dream

Sam Farmer of the LOS ANGELES TIMES has comments from AEG’s Tim Leiweke in Los Angeles Thursday that go a long way to illuminating how Leiweke and downtown L.A. stadium partner Casey Wasserman plan to pitch the public for money for the proposed project.

AEG's Tim Leiweke leading plan for $1B downtown L.A. NFL Stadium

(Tim Leiweke is leading L.A. NFL Stadium Project, a baller)

As I’ve previously reported, AEG, which was integral to building Staples Center, has no plans to include a significant amount of its own money in the building of a downtown, multi-billion dollar stadium that would be the centerpiece of an expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

So if AEG isn’t going to spend its own money on a stadium that could lure an NFL team back to L.A., how do they plan to raise the money for the construction of the project?

While there’s sure to be some private investment, it’ll be virtually impossible to fund the proposed retractable-roof football facility without public money - at the very least to facilitate myriad infrastructure requirements around the building.

Thursday AEG’s Leiweke finally showed his hand as to how he plans to convince the public to throw in on the deal.

Without the guarantee of an NFL team, Leiweke will instead use the possibility of hosting the 50th Super Bowl and the 2022 World Cup Final as lures to get public funds. (Along with the stadium serving as space for the convention center for non-sports endeavors.)

From Farmer’s L.A. Times piece this week:

AEG’s Tim Leiweke, who heads a group looking to build an NFL stadium next to Staples Center, said the project could be completed in time to host the 50th Super Bowl in February 2016.

Leiweke said his group would ask the NFL to waive its traditional requirement that a venue be open for at least a year before being eligible to host its marquee event. He said that if all goes as planned, a privately financed, $1-billion L.A. stadium could be ready for the 2015 season.

The first Super Bowl was played at the L.A. Coliseum.

The key sentence there is “if all goes as planned, a privately-financed, $1-billion L.A. Stadium could be ready for the 2015 season.

While I’m in no way disputing the accuracy of Farmer’s story, the stadium will not be wholly privately-financed and will cost, all told, considerably more than $1 billion.

If all goes as planned” also assumes there won’t be any obstacles to the deal.

In other words, a 2015 completion date is highly unlikely.

More from the L.A. Times:

“We’re asking [the NFL] to look at our track record, the uniqueness of that anniversary, and the place that this city has played in hosting Super Bowls.

Leiweke met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league executives Wednesday in New York, but declined to specify what they discussed.

Leiweke, along with L.A. businessman Casey Wasserman, has proposed a retractable-roof “event center” that would double as sports venue and convention space — the centerpiece, in fact, of a massive convention center expansion AEG is proposing. They envision the stadium hosting Final Fours and the 2022 World Cup Finals (should the U.S.’ bid next month be accepted), in addition to being home to an NFL team.

What’s interesting to note is that the NFL has already itself reportedly pondered the possibility of Los Angeles hosting the 50th Super Bowl if it had the requisite, new facility.

In 2006, Billy Witz of the LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS reported:

“With this being the 40th game, the sentiment is that the 50th anniversary of the first Super Bowl ought to be played in Los Angeles, which is where the first one was played,” one team executive said this week.

The first major part of convincing the people of Los Angeles and California to put up money for a new downtown L.A. stadium - without the promise of an NFL team - will come on Dec. 2.

That’s the day FIFA will announce which country will host the 2022 World Cup. If the U.S. secures the tournament, Leiweke and Wasserman will surely turn up the rhetoric about L.A. needing a new stadium to host tournament games.

Winning World Cup rights will also likely loosen the purse strings of billionaire AEG Founder Phil Anschutz - a major U.S. soccer proponent - for the L.A. Stadium project.

After that, it’ll be very, very interesting to see where the NFL stands on going public in its desire to host Super Bowl 50 in Los Angeles. With the innumerable financial, political and logistical requirements that will go into such a project, I can’t imagine the NFL will move on anything until it’s clear that Leiweke and Wasserman have accrued the necessary captital - financial and political - to get the project done.

If this sounds like just another L.A. NFL stadium pipe dream, it isn’t. I give Leiweke and Wasserman a better than 50 percent chance of making the project happen. But god knows it ain’t gonna be easy.

World Cup 2022 Bid Committee

See you back here on Dec. 2.