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October 11, 2011
NFL hates on AEG Los Angeles stadium, Roski retools Industry offer
The Los Angeles NFL stadium competition, thought by many (though not by me) to have been settled in favor of AEG's downtown stadium plan when that was approved by the L.A. city council back in August, just got turned topsy-turvy again:
- On Friday, Yahoo News reported that the NFL isn't interested in the AEG plan as currently constituted: "During a Sept. 6 meeting at the NFL offices in New York, commissioner Roger Goodell told Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry and political aide Bernard Parks, Jr. that neither the league nor any team interested in moving there would agree to the business proposal set forth by Anschutz Entertainment Group, according to three sources with knowledge of the conversation." Added one unnamed NFL exec: "The problem is that when you start to look at the expenses and how much has to be divided among all the competing interests, you have to wonder how much is going to be there for a team." Or, as the invaluable (and I say that not just because they linked to us) I Dislike Your Favorite Team puts it: "Wait, you want to charge HOW MUCH to have a NFL team in your stadium?"
- With the AEG plan apparently dead in the water for now — at least until they can figure out how to pay for it without demanding that any team playing there give up a ton of stadium revenues and a chunk of equity in the team — developer Ed Roski has retooled his City of Industry stadium plan: Now, instead of seeking to trade development rights to land around the stadium for an ownership share in an NFL team, Roski would buy a chunk of the team at market rate, and offer to hand over the development rights to the land to any team that would move in and finance the stadium themselves.
On the face of it, Roski's new proposal doesn't sound all that much more tempting to an NFL owner: Either way, they're looking at giving up a chunk of their team and having to build a stadium on their own dime, with the uncertain prospect of getting to develop the surrounding land the only upside. That's not what team owners are looking for — as I've written before, if teams wanted to use their own revenues to pay for new stadiums, they could do that right now in their current cities.
L.A. is no doubt a tempting market — albeit less so in the NFL, where local TV revenue is inconsequential — but it remains exceedingly unlikely that either the league or any individual team owner is going to jump at a stadium offer that mostly requires them to pay their own way. (Yes, the New York Giants and Jets did it, but New York is an even bigger market than L.A., and there the teams didn't have to start fresh with a new fan base.) Unless somebody figures out how to either cut the cost of the stadiums or generate cash out of thin air — or from those increasingly standoffish California taxpayers — we could be a long way from seeing the NFL return to Los Angeles.