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? Read more…

NFL Return To LA Hinges On 2022 World Cup Bid

Three months ago I strongly suggested that soccer could play a major role in whether the NFL returns to Los Angeles some time this decade. In the past week, there’s been new developments that only serve to confirm that notion.

World Cup 2022 Bid Committee

(Anschutz, Leiweke (above) and Wasserman: Pitching own LA stadium deal)

Until today, the United States had been bidding to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Friday morning the U.S. World Cup Bid Committee announced that it is no longer targeting 2018 and instead will focus all of its efforts on 2022 - a year in which the U.S. is regarded as a favorite to obtain event.

Billionaire Philip Anschutz and AEG entertainment company President Tim Leiweke are influential members of that U.S. World Cup Bid Committee. They also happen to be the men who, along with Southern California real estate magnate Ed Roski, were prime movers in getting L.A.’s Staples Center built. More recently, Anschutz and Leiweke were behind the newly-opened downtown L.A. Live entertainment and shopping district.

Anschutz may be the highest-profile proponent of soccer in the United States, having essentially owned half of MLS in the past as a founding partner of the fledging league.

Now it’s Anschutz’s aim to bring the World Cup back to the U.S. in 2022 in a bid that Leiweke and L.A.-based sports business tycoon Casey Wasserman - who is also on the World Cup Bid Committee - hope will provide the political support to unlock funds necessary for a downtown Los Angeles retractable-roof stadium.

As front men for the deal, Leiweke and Wasserman first went public of their intention to lead the charge for a downtown L.A. stadium in April. They’ve since reiterated that desire in public on a few occasions, though curiously not over-emphasizing the issue’s elephant in the room: World Cup soccer.

In August I reported Anschutz, Leiweke and AEG had no plans for a large financial stake in the downtown L.A. stadium project. Instead, the facility plan would rely on other private investment and public funds.

At this moment, the prospect of raising public or private funds in Los Angeles for your next laundry load - let alone a multi-billion dollar downtown L.A. stadium project - isn’t laughable, it’s hysterical.

That’s where the World Cup comes in.

If the U.S. does secure the soccer tournament in 2022, it’s safe bet that Leiweke and Wasserman will use that fact to gain consideration from politicians, the public and private equity in an attempt to set the stage for raising funds for the downtown L.A. stadium.

Remember when I said that Leiweke and Wasserman hadn’t been publicly trumpeting World Cup soccer as being inexorably connected to a new downtown L.A. stadium? (Which could also house an NFL team.)

In the past week, we found out why. Read more…

Obama Presidency At Risk Over Kevin Johnson?

One of the storylines that emerged from the 2008 presidential election was that Barack Obama would be the first “basketball” president. That seemed like a largely meaningless distinction; yes, he played b-ball while growing up instead of hitting the gridiron like Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, but unless you care who the President puts in his NCAA bracket (and why would you? Do we ask Joe Lunardi about politics?), who cares, right?

Kevin Johnson
(Remember this guy?)

Oddly enough, though, it may be the shenanigans of an Obama-backing former basketball player (and, as it were, the owner of several pro sports franchises) that may, if not derail the entire Obama presidency, at the very least give the opposition a legitimate salvo to fire for the 2010 election cycle.

Read more…