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3 Sites Identified for Possible NFL Stadium

CRA sees benefits and problems in Coliseum, Convention Center and Union Station locations.

January 17, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Redevelopment Agency said Thursday it has identified three sites well-suited for a professional football stadium -- with the Memorial Coliseum the least expensive to develop, an industrial area near Union Station offering the most blight-erasing potential and property next to the Convention Center offering the best marketing opportunity for an NFL owner.

The release of the six-month study sets the stage for renewed debate by the City Council about how best to advance Los Angeles' chances for securing a National Football League team. Among the issues for the city in that discussion are which site to back and whether to commit public money.

But even if the council can solve those issues, there is no guarantee that the NFL would agree or that a potential owner is waiting to build a stadium.

"It's exciting to know there are some viable options here, each with its own characteristics," said Council President Alex Padilla, who chairs the council's Ad Hoc Stadium Committee.

But he added, "the other piece of this is the NFL and what they will want."

Councilman Nick Pacheco, who originally sought the study, said he thinks the results will help entice a team.

"It really comes down to how seriously the NFL wants to be a part of Los Angeles," he said.

While the City Council requested that redevelopment officials identify potential sites in redevelopment areas -- where agency money can be used to subsidize development -- the agency board made it clear Thursday that it is not interested in playing a major financial role in a stadium project.

"We are not in the business of siting football stadiums," said CRA board Chairman David Farrar. "We are in the business of jobs and housing."

Still, Pacheco said he believes the redevelopment agency can play a role, using its power to assemble properties and relocate businesses with property tax funds generated by development of the site.

Mayor James K. Hahn did not comment on the report Thursday, but previously has opposed devoting any public money to getting a football team, and Padilla said Thursday that he would not support using public funds for a stadium project.

In addition to those questions, there are more local political disputes ahead. The three sites identified by the CRA lie in three different council districts.

Pacheco said he is hopeful the council will unite behind the location near Union Station and within the Adelante-Eastside redevelopment project area in his district.

For purposes of narrowing down possible sites to three, the redevelopment agency considered that the project would have to include a 68,000-seat stadium with 8,000 club seats and 150 luxury boxes, up to 18,000 parking spaces, naming rights with potential revenue averaging $7 million to $8 million annually and construction not to exceed 2 1/2 years. It also required the site to be within five miles of downtown.

Don Spivak, the CRA's assistant administrator, told the board that the agency is not ranking the sites overall, but said each has potential benefits and problems.

At the Coliseum, the land would not cost anything, since it already is publicly owned, and it would not be necessary to relocate residents or business owners.

In comparison, the site near Union Station would cost $60 million for purchase of the land and relocation of those who are there.

The site near the Convention Center would probably require $150 million to purchase land and move existing inhabitants, according to the study.

Construction of a stadium also would cost less at the Coliseum -- $300 million, compared with $370 million next to the Convention Center and up to $400 million near Union Station.

The result is that the total cost to provide land and a stadium would be $680 million near the Convention Center, $523 million to $532 million near Union Station and $350 million to $400 million at the Coliseum.

The big drawback with the site near the Convention Center, according to the report, is that it would overlap land planned for an entertainment and shopping district by the owners of Staples Center.

Because it would displace proposed theaters, parking, convention center expansion and retail and entertainment uses, that site would likely require lengthy negotiations with Staples owners Anschutz Entertainment Group, which would add to the cost of the project and time of construction, Spivak said.

The study labeled it "seriously problematic."

One benefit of that site, however, is its location. By being close to Staples Center, the Convention Center and Harbor Freeway, the report concluded, it has the most "market desirability" of the three.

The Coliseum, meanwhile, is hindered by the NFL's continued resistance to bringing a team back to a facility where both the Rams and Raiders failed.

And the site near the Convention Center has advantages for the neighborhood, but could draw opposition from those who would prefer to use that area for new housing.

"From the perspective of potential positive economic development impacts for the city, the Adelante-Eastside site offered the greatest potential, given the low density and undesirable -- from the perspective of quality urban and economic development and job creation -- nature of many of the existing uses," the report states.

The study also touted the amount of developable land at the location, "the proximity to the Los Angeles River and potential for riverfront-related development, and proximity to Union Station and transportation options."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Thursday that the league would look at any proposal the city makes, but noted that the league also is watching the development of a competing plan for the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

"Certainly we would be interested to hear what they say," Aiello said.

He said there is currently no formal proposal for a team to locate in Los Angeles.

"A stadium would come first," Aiello said.

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