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Anaheim may end its quest for NFL team

December 06, 2007|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

Scratch another city off the list of possible homes for an NFL team in Southern California.

A week after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the Memorial Coliseum is "no longer a viable option," Anaheim officials said much the same about a large chunk of city-owned land in the Angel Stadium parking lot.

"The NFL's train has left," Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring said. "It would cost the taxpayers too much money, and the return on the investment does not warrant it. This city has learned to live without a football team since the Rams left years ago. I'd rather make a concerted effort to get an NBA team."

Anaheim is expected to officially bow out of the National Football League sweepstakes in a few months when it sells the 53-acre stadium site to Archstone-Smith and Hines, which plans to build shops, hotels and office towers. The developer has reportedly offered the city more than $150 million, three times what an NFL team would pay to build a stadium in the Platinum Triangle -- a sprouting urban village where about 9,000 homes are planned within 10 years.

"It's a completely dead issue with us," Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu said. "If there's any chance of this coming back, it'll have to be in discussions with Archstone and the NFL."

Archstone officials declined to say whether they would be interested in continuing to negotiate with the NFL once they purchase the land, but one of the company's plans incorporates an NFL stadium.

Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, also declined comment. A little more than two years ago, Anaheim was a serious player in the NFL stadium derby with the Coliseum, the Rose Bowl and Carson. At a news conference in May 2005, the city presented a lavish plan to create a broad, tree-lined boulevard to link Anaheim's emerging downtown to the Disney resorts three miles away.

But plans for that boulevard quickly died, and Anaheim council members began questioning the wisdom of selling valuable city land at a discounted price to the NFL.

Then late last year, as the NFL's estimate for the cost of building a stadium topped $1 billion, Anaheim began to cool to the idea as potential team owners shied away from the ballooning price tag. In May, the city gave exclusive development rights to Archstone.

Pasadena and Carson bowed out of the running more than two years ago. Pasadena didn't have the political support for a team, and Carson abandoned the NFL plan in favor of other opportunities. Over the summer, the league told Los Angeles Coliseum officials that placing a team there wasn't feasible.

david.mckibben@latimes.com

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