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Tagliabue: Plan Born in L.A. : Stadium: NFL commissioner says talks about a new 80,000 seat facility began more than three months ago; he blasts critics of the concept.

October 10, 1994|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

FOXBORO, Mass. — NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Sunday that several unidentified Los Angeles city and county officials initiated the discussions about building a new football stadium in Los Angeles.

Tagliabue also criticized those who have publicly opposed the project.

"There are city fathers in Los Angeles who are quite positive about it," he said before the Raider-New England Patriot game. "We've had discussions going back three or four months with city and county officials in Los Angeles who were very open to this kind of idea. In fact, they raised it with us before we raised it with them."

Asked about those who have questioned the idea of building a new stadium after $60 million in public funds was spent to rebuild the earthquake-ravaged Coliseum, Tagliabue said there was "a negative response from people who have a tradition of being negative. . . . I think it (the stadium) is a good idea.

"If you want to be negative for the rest of your life, you can be that way, but you'll never make much progress. If you want to be positive and innovative and work together in a partnership, then you can get things done."

Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said on Sunday night that she doesn't believe a new stadium is in anyone's best interest.

"When he (Tagliabue) has an opportunity to look at his plan, his idea of a new stadium will be different," Burke said. "There are a lot of places in Los Angeles talking about putting up a stadium, but 80,000 seats, there just is not a lot of use for that here."

Asked about the money already spent on the Coliseum, Tagliabue said: "They did it for their own reasons. They didn't do it because the National Football League asked them to do it. . . . I'm not arguing whether it was necessary to spend the money. I'm suggesting what we are putting on the table is an innovative concept that looks forward for 20 to 30 to 40 years, not just to repair the damage from an earthquake."

Responded Burke: "We can make the Coliseum state of the art, but building a new (stadium), there isn't the money to build a new stadium."

Asked if the new stadium plan was being floated in the hope of keeping the Rams and Raiders in Southern California, Tagliabue said he is "not assuming the Rams are going to move."

As for the Raiders, he said: "I think it's fairly clear they're looking at other alternatives. You don't have to be a genius to know they have problems."

Raider owner Al Davis, in attendance at Sunday's game, chose not to comment on Tagliabue's remarks.

Said Burke: "We hope the Raiders are going to stay, but if they aren't, then we'll talk, I imagine, with the NFL.

"I don't think we should get into big battle and certainly not in the press. We're moving forward."

Under a plan first revealed by Tagliabue last week, a new stadium in Los Angeles would be partially financed from as yet unspecified sources of NFL revenue.

Under the NFL plan, the stadium would be constructed along with a football theme park similar to the one installed next to the Rose Bowl for the Super Bowl two years ago.

Burke said plans already exist for a similar facility adjacent to the Coliseum in Exposition Park.

"I have had discussions with the NFL to get together," Burke said. "We will invite them to look at a new Exposition (Park) complex. There's a whole (new) Exposition planned. A new museum, the whole complex."

To entice the city of Los Angeles to take part in the venture, Tagliabue said the Super Bowl would be held there five times in the 10 years after the stadium was completed.

There's a need for a better stadium in Los Angeles," he said, "and we have the ability to link it to the Super Bowl because Los Angeles is such a great Super Bowl site if it can be done properly . . . If we play a Super Bowl in a city, it brings $150 million to $200 million to that city in a two-week period of time. If we played five Super Bowls in a city over a 10-year period, it would bring close to a billion dollars to that community.

"It's part of a concept for putting forth a major boost to tourism in the local economy unprecedented in sports."

So where does that leave the Coliseum?

"There are a bunch of ifs with the Coliseum," Tagliabue said, "including whether they'll continue to make the type of investment in it that needs to be made."

Times staff writer Greg Sandoval contributed to this story.

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