City and state officials agreed to work together Wednesday to eliminate a roadblock that could stall the latest effort to return an NFL franchise to the Coliseum.
At issue is a City of Los Angeles ordinance that must pass muster with a state development agency before low-cost public financing can be used to help pay for needed infrastructure improvements should the NFL decide to build a $500 million, state-of-the-art football stadium inside the existing walls of the Coliseum.
Assemblyman Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) argued that the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank could derail the Coliseum's bid for an NFL team if the agency doesn't approve the city's ordinance.
Sunne Wright McPeak, the governor's secretary of the Business, Transportation & Housing Agency and the bank's chairwoman, said she wants guarantees that "the interests of the entire state are represented."
During an agency meeting, McPeak pressed Los Angeles to produce an ordinance that would prohibit the Coliseum from trying to lure the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders or the San Francisco 49ers -- three franchises that are dissatisfied with their current stadium deals.
More than regional politics is at stake. The development bank's staff and the Coliseum Commission agree that California would enjoy an economic boost if the Coliseum attracts an out-of-state team or a newly created NFL franchise. But the agency's staff has cautioned that economic benefits won't materialize if the Coliseum poaches a team from within the state. The staff wants an ironclad ordinance that would prohibit California teams from migrating to the Coliseum.
NFL officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.
A retooled ordinance that city attorneys delivered hours before Wednesday's meeting also failed to pass muster with the agency, but state and city representatives promised to work together to craft an acceptable ordinance before a Sept. 27 meeting. The city faces a time crunch because of a late-October NFL deadline for L.A.-area stadium sites to have completed proposals in place.
"This is about more than football, per se," Ridley-Thomas said. "Football becomes a catalyst for necessary redevelopment and renaissance for a quarter of the city of Los Angeles that is destined to be a significant regional destination point."
Politics surfaced when state Treasurer Phil Angelides, who serves on the agency's board -- and who expects to run against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger next year -- questioned "why the administration is throwing up obstacles.... It's good for the neighborhood, good for Los Angeles, and the state ought to help and not hinder the city's efforts to redevelop this urban neighborhood."
\o7Times staff writer Alan Abrahamson contributed to this report.