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Session on L.A. stadium project will allow public to share opinions

The meeting will start a months-long process of identifying, studying and trying to lessen environmental effects of the proposed stadium next to Staples Center.

March 26, 2011|By Rich Connell, Los Angeles Times
  • An artist's rendering of the proposed football stadium, to be called the L.A. Live Event Center.
An artist's rendering of the proposed football stadium, to be called… (Associated Press )

The public will get an early chance this week to share thoughts on traffic, noise, glare and other potential impacts of downtown Los Angeles' proposed National Football League stadium.

An informal session sponsored by the city Planning Department will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Los Angeles Convention Center, on the site where the stadium would be built.

The meeting begins a months-long process of identifying, studying and attempting to lessen environmental effects of the proposed stadium next door to Staples Center, near the intersection of the 10 and 110 freeways.

The developer, L.A. Event Center, a subsidiary of Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz's global entertainment and arena conglomerate, wants to demolish and relocate an aging portion of the Convention Center to clear space for the $1-billion stadium.

Dubbed Farmers Field for the insurance company buying naming rights, the structure would have a retractable roof and double as convention exhibition space when not used for sports and concerts. Renderings of the stadium and other information will be available at the open-house-style meeting, along with consultants for the developer and city planners, officials said.

The project is going through a full environmental impact report process, although Anschutz Entertainment Group officials have indicated that the firm might seek some legislative protection from lawsuits that could delay the project. A competing NFL stadium proposal by billionaire Ed Roski in the City of Industry stirred controversy in 2009 when promoters successfully lobbied for such an exemption from legal challenges on environmental grounds.

Key issues for the Los Angeles proposal will include "really looking at the context of the stadium and how it fits into downtown," ensuring that it doesn't overshadow surrounding development, said city Director of Planning Michael LoGrande.

Getting tens of thousands of stadium-goers in and out of the area on the southern edge of downtown's high-rise office and residential district will also be a focus of the study. Planners and AEG hope to use the region's expanding rail system, which converges in downtown, to reduce event traffic.

"We anticipate the most public scrutiny will be on transportation and parking issues — as it should be," William F. Delvac, the developer's attorney, said in a recent letter to LoGrande.

The environmental review process is running on a track parallel with a City Hall examination of the complex financial elements of the deal, officials say. At least three panels of community leaders, elected officials and budget analysts will assess how the project would be funded, how city coffers would be protected and what the project's potential economic benefits would be.

AEG, which built Staples Center and the adjacent L.A. Live entertainment zone, has promised that taxpayers will not pay a penny for the stadium or Convention Center modernization. The nature and extent of the financial backup to that pledge and a long-term lease of city land for the privately financed stadium are among the issues to be negotiated.

Los Angeles will gain significantly, project boosters argue, from tens of thousands of new jobs, construction of nearby hotels and hundreds of millions of dollars in increased economic activity.

AEG has requested a series of public hearings on the project so potential issues can be quickly identified and addressed. The firm hopes to secure an NFL team soon, complete the stadium in a little more than four years and host the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl in 2016.

Wednesday's meeting will be in Room 501 of the Convention Center's West Hall.

rich.connell@latimes.com

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