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Downtown Stadium

November 19, 1995

* Gary Gilbar's plea for a sports complex next to the Convention Center Downtown (Commentary, Nov. 13) may be heartfelt, but economically it is surely misguided. It's grossly imprudent to suggest that, facing hospital closures, school cutbacks and underfunded libraries, the City of Los Angeles try to woo a football team to Downtown. Contrary to Gilbar's assertions, there's no clear indication that a new football team would be a financial boon--the economics of professional sports suggest that teams sap business from competing forms of entertainment, instead of expanding the pie; and it's naive to think that a football team can substitute for industry in revitalizing an underutilized portion of the city.

I like football as much as anyone, and sure, I was sorry to see the Rams and the Raiders leave town. But L.A. fans will never be as rabidly devoted to their teams as, say, the Bills fans in Buffalo, or the recently betrayed Browns fans in Cleveland. Good weather, proximity to the beach and the mountains, and the deep passions for USC and UCLA football are just some of the circumstances that conspire against a thriving NFL franchise in Downtown L.A. It would be an economic shame if the city cut a sweetheart deal to get a second-rate existing franchise (the Buccaneers or the Oilers, say), or a third-rate expansion team in the next few years.

JON DANZIGER

Los Angeles

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