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Another NFL stadium plan for L.A.?

Tim Leiweke and Casey Wasserman are considering the area behind Staples Center for new venue.

April 15, 2010|By Sam Farmer

Eight years ago, two influential Los Angeles businessmen, Casey Wasserman and Tim Leiweke, unfurled a plan to build a privately financed NFL stadium near Staples Center.

The plan was scuttled almost as quickly as it arose, however, when the Coliseum Commission announced its intention to make its own NFL bid. Thus ended what many people believe was the last best chance to bring pro football back to the nation's second-largest market.

Now, according to multiple sources, Wasserman and Leiweke are considering getting back in the stadium game.

They are investigating the possibility of building a stadium behind Staples Center, where the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center now sits, with the idea of replacing that convention space elsewhere in the general area.

So far, the concept is in the preliminary stages, although the NFL is aware of it and is monitoring its progress.

The convention center site is owned by the city. It is within walking distance of the newly constructed 1,000-room hotel that AEG built in the Staples Center/LA Live sports and entertainment district.

Wasserman, grandson of legendary MCA studio head Lew Wasserman, is founder and CEO of the Wasserman Media Group. Leiweke is president and CEO of AEG, which owns Staples Center. Both Wasserman and Leiweke declined comment for this story.

It's hard enough to build one stadium in the L.A. area, and there aren't going to be two. This concept, therefore, would be in direct competition with the one that billionaire Ed Roski hopes to develop in the City of Industry.

That would pit Leiweke and Roski, both of whom played major roles in getting Staples Center done.

John Semcken, the point man on Roski's project, acknowledged that there isn't room in Southern California for two stadium projects, but he said they have no plans to abandon theirs.

"It doesn't change what we're doing at all," he said. "Doesn't influence anything we're doing one bit."

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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