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Irwindale Asks Firms for Cash to Lure Raiders

August 09, 1987|MARK ARAX | Times Staff Writer

IRWINDALE — City officials are working to raise $19 million of the $20 million in up-front cash that Los Angeles Raiders owner Al Davis says he wants before he will build a stadium and team headquarters in this tiny industrial city.

City officials, who say the cash advance remains the chief obstacle to a signed agreement with the Raiders, have met with a number of local and national corporations in an attempt to raise the money. One local business, which city officials refused to identify, has expressed an interest in loaning Irwindale $9 million and possibly as much as $19 million.

The $19 million plus $1 million that Irwindale has already pledged in up-front cash would then be loaned to the Raiders with the understanding that the money would be forfeited to the team if the deal collapsed.

The business or businesses advancing the $19 million would assume all the risk. In return, they would receive first rights to have logos on stadium signs.

"We're at the most crucial point in the negotiations, and I just can't comment," said Xavier Hermosillo, press spokesman for the city.

Hermosillo, City Manager Charles Martin and city Redevelopment Agency consultant Fred Lyte met with Davis Wednesday at the Raiders' training camp in Oxnard. Neither party would comment on the meeting, but the $20 million advance is believed to have been a major topic of discussion.

The Raiders have explored several alternatives since plans collapsed in April for improvements to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the team's present home. Sources close to the team say Davis has narrowed his choices to Irwindale and Inglewood's Hollywood Park. For the past six weeks, Davis and other Raiders administrators have been negotiating with representatives from both cities.

Last week, the Irwindale City Council formally approved an earlier offer by the city's Redevelopment Agency to carve a 65,000-seat stadium out of an old rock and gravel pit along the Foothill Freeway.

In a 5-0 vote, the council agreed to loan the Raiders--whose headquarters are in El Segundo--$115 million to build the stadium, a practice field, a new headquarters and a Raiders Hall of Fame. The $20-million advance would be part of that loan.

The Raiders would own the structures and repay the city through the stadium's cash flow over a 30-year lease. The city would finance most of the construction through an $80-million revenue bond. In addition, Irwindale residents will vote Nov. 3 on a proposed $10-million general obligation bond to improve streets and build additional freeway access for stadium traffic.

The general obligation bond essentially would be a tax on residential property. Irwindale residents who are now paying $500 a year in property taxes can expect to pay $850, according to City Manager Martin. To cover the increase and ensure voter support for the measure, the city has announced plans to reimburse residents.

Irwindale emerged as a potential stadium site in June when Davis took a helicopter tour of the 80-acre, 160-foot-deep pit across from the Miller Brewing Co. plant along the 210 Freeway.

But negotiations quickly became entangled in Davis' demand that $20 million of the loan be forwarded as soon as a deal is signed. Davis apparently views the money as an inducement to relocate the team, one of the most successful organizations in sports.

In a letter to Davis two weeks ago, Redevelopment Agency consultant Lyte said the city would forward only $1 million. Lyte told Davis that before Irwindale would advance the remaining $19 million, it had to complete an economic survey and initiate steps to secure public and private financing. That could take up to 120 days.

But in recent days, Lyte has changed course and is now attempting to secure the money from the private sector.

"Davis wants that money now, and we're working to do that," Lyte said last week. "We're confident this whole thing can be put together. Wouldn't that be something? A tiny, dusty place like Irwindale getting the Los Angeles Raiders."

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