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T.J. SIMERS

Downtown stadium an idea whose time should come

With other local venues fading and Staples Center a shining example of what works, a retractable-roof stadium makes sense. Sorry, Industry.

November 08, 2010|T.J. Simers

The Coliseum, Rose Bowl and Dodger Stadium are dumps.

Staples Center, which replaced the North Hall of the Convention Center 11 years ago, has been a tremendous success.

Even the Clippers draw big crowds.

Now there is talk of the same people who built Staples Center building a NFL stadium attached to the Convention Center — where the West Hall now sits.

It makes so much sense.

And, as an added bonus, it probably will force Frank McCourt out as Dodgers owner if his wife is unsuccessful in doing so. But more on that positive development in a moment.

I have been involved in the NFL/L.A. story since the Rams' and Raiders' departures after the 1994 season.

I've taken a look at every stadium proposal, every millionaire interested in joining the NFL fraternity, and understand the secret handshake necessary to gain NFL approval.

Philip Anschutz is the NFL's kind of guy.

Ed Roski is not.

On the local front, Roski is known as a terrific guy who has done terrific things. But a few years back when the NFL tried to give a franchise to L.A., Roski failed to get a deal done.

The NFL dealmaker at the time was Roger Goodell, who then became commissioner. He never took to Roski, and while Roski has a stadium plan for the City of Industry, the NFL's only interest will be to use it as leverage in getting a better deal downtown.

Roski, who was instrumental initially in getting Staples Center built, might be better served to throw in with Anschutz again.

Many of the NFL owners are already soccer partners with Anschutz. And more than that, Anschutz pitchman Tim Leiweke has said the Anschutz Empire will spend its own money to build a new playpen for NFL teams interested in moving here.

The NFL just loves it when someone is willing to spend whatever it takes to eventually make them all a little richer.

We all know Leiweke. He's the man who brought David Beckham to town and told us Beckham would change how we view soccer.

He doesn't always get it right. Go back a few years and Kings fans will be more than happy to explain how he's almost never right.

But there's also no holding Leiweke back when he goes to work. LA Live comes to mind. Even the Kings are beginning to make a case for other newspaper writers here to go watch them play.

No one has probably done more to rejuvenate downtown L.A. than Leiweke. He has used Staples Center and his influence to bring the Democratic Convention here, the Grammy Awards, All-Star games and a who's-who list of concert performers.

No one is going to spend $1 billion to build a stadium to be used 10 days a year. But what if the stadium has a retractable roof, is attached to the Convention Center and can be used to entice large conventions here the rest of the year?

The Anschutz Empire makes out, adding to the LA Live appeal, which then results in more condos and hotel rooms sold.

There will be objections, of course. Politicians squawked when the city advanced money for the construction of Staples Center. Those objections sound silly right now and the money is being repaid.

Anschutz's AEG will make money from naming rights, as well as a percentage of luxury suites and club seats sold — as they do now in Staples. It's the same kind of deal it struck with the Lakers.

Anschutz also secured a 30% ownership interest in the Lakers and can buy the team if the Buss family ever has to sell.

The same deal probably will be made with the Chargers, with Casey Wasserman becoming the minority owner and the face of the team in L.A.

Wasserman has already partnered with Leiweke, has previous experience working with the Goofs who own the Chargers, and has a close relationship with Goodell.

L.A. lost two teams 16 years ago, and might begin anew with two teams again, including the Rams.

Stan Kroenke owns the Rams, as well as Denver's basketball and hockey teams. He will have to sell his Denver interests unless he becomes owner of the Broncos.

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is having health issues. Someone has suggested it makes sense for Kroenke to exchange franchises with Bowlen, taking ownership of the Broncos and allowing Bowlen to move the Rams to L.A.

The Los Angeles Rams. Still have your old jersey?

Now as for McCourt, he just loses again.

McCourt declined to comment Monday, presumably busy collecting aluminum cans to find the money to make good on what he still owes Manny Ramirez.

His plan to renovate the third-oldest park in baseball has been placed on hold. Lack of funds. But put a new dress, makeup and wig on a 50-year-old lady and she's still 50 years old. I know this from personal experience.

The Dodgers are going to need a new stadium. If football comes first, the rich folks here will be putting down serious cash for luxury suites and club seats. Many will have already done so to remain close to the Lakers in Staples Center.

So who buys luxury suites and club seats to a new Dodger Stadium? First of all, who pays for the construction of a new stadium? Hint: There probably aren't enough aluminum cans in L.A.

Without a new Dodger Stadium, how does the team find the money to remain competitive?

By way of comparison, if folks are filling Staples Center and the new football stadium, Dodger Stadium might soon begin to feel like the Sports Arena.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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