ATLANTA — Billionaire Marvin Davis, getting a signed option agreement Monday from Hollywood Park on 100 of the 140 acres of land for the development of a football stadium, is now in position to curry NFL favor if Eli Broad and Michael Ovitz fail to make their cases for the return of football in the Coliseum.
Davis must still sign the agreement but all indications are he will do so soon.
Sources say Davis insisted on a signed agreement with Hollywood Park at this time to offset his reputation for being a "tire kicker who never makes a deal," in order to present his intentions to the NFL in serious fashion.
The NFL does not expect an appearance by Davis in Atlanta, who sent word through three public relations representatives that he would have no comment for anyone in Los Angeles, a peculiar response from someone who might want to sell tickets to area fans one day.
Broad, meanwhile, scrambling to answer Ovitz's rise in NFL prominence recently, surprised the league's Expansion Committee Monday night, telling it that he and partner Ed Roski were dropping their exclusivity claim on all negotiations with the Coliseum.
"I think that was very helpful to the process," said Jerry Richardson, chairman of the Expansion Committee.
On Broad's suggestion, Roski, who failed to return from a three-week trip to New Guinea in time to be at the New Coliseum presentation, agreed to surrender his right to recoup up to $5 million in expenses and free the NFL to deal with whomever it likes in completing a stadium deal.
"We kept hearing about that being a big issue," said Broad, who said he expects the NFL--out of the goodness of its collective heart--to reimburse Roski for his expenses once a deal is completed. "And if they don't, they don't."
Broad also took a serious swipe at Ovitz's grand design for a $298-million rebuilt Coliseum surrounded by five parking garages, and pleaded with the owners not to be so quick in endorsing a stadium design and parking solution, suggesting to the owners that due diligence will show Ovitz's vision as nothing more than pie in the sky.
"I don't want to be negative, but I hope you choose a plan that is not only dazzling but is also feasible and will get built," Broad told the owners. "We believe [our plan] is the only one you're going to see this evening that's not only spectacular, but has the necessary approvals and will actually get built."
In somewhat of a twist, after suggesting Ovitz's plan lacked substance, Broad presented his own stadium design, which was missing "The Home of the Grammys" and the "NFL Experience" the New Coliseum partners had shown the owners in October. The reason by their own admission: They were just pie-in-the-sky sketches thrown in to jazz up the October presentation.
And call it a coincidence, but Broad's new stadium design now will have a running water display in one end zone, like Ovitz announced a few days ago. In the New Coliseum plan, however, the water display can be removed to provide 8,000 more seats for larger events.
"We told the owners we are prepared to build whatever plan you want as long as we can get the approvals," said Broad, telling the NFL his project will cost $905 million, including $500 million for the price of the franchise. "We told the owners we can make a 1 1/2% minimal return on our investment given these numbers."
Ovitz, as expected, caught the owners' attention with his glitzy stadium presentation, and admitted he has no idea what needs to be done to complete the project, but will immerse himself in the project if the league endorses his plan.