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L.A. wants Convention Center alternatives to AEG stadium plan

The city will begin looking at other ways of redeveloping the Convention Center, a primary goal of its stadium deal, because of a management shake-up at AEG.

March 28, 2013|By Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles officials agreed Wednesday to pursue a parallel track for redeveloping the city's Convention Center in the event that Anschutz Entertainment Group and the National Football League fail to reach agreement on the Farmers Field stadium downtown.

Jan Perry, chair of a special City Council committee overseeing the AEG deal, said she remains hopeful that the city can continue to work with the entertainment giant in both drawing an NFL franchise and building the stadium in the L.A. Live area.

But with a recent management shake-up at AEG, the city must begin looking at other ways of expanding and redesigning the Convention Center — a primary goal of its AEG agreement, she said.

That hasn't changed, Perry said Wednesday, and it's important "to look at other ways to achieve this goal."

Committee members asked the city's chief legislative analyst, Gerry Miller, and its chief administrative officer, Miguel Santana, to come back within 30 days with other options for renovating the Convention Center's aging West Hall and other properties.

Miller and Santana will work with the Urban Land Institute to evaluate various options, getting assistance from a technical advisory panel with expertise in design, finance and land use.

Alternatives include operating a new hotel to bring in revenue, as has been done in Chicago, or floating bonds and implementing new taxes to help pay for a renovation, Santana said. Updates are needed, officials said, because the Convention Center is too small and outdated to draw the kind of large conventions that would bring more tourists to the downtown area.

Initial euphoria at the prospect of attracting an NFL team has soured in recent weeks with steady reports that AEG and the league owners are at loggerheads in striking a deal.

In September, the City Council approved agreements for the construction of a stadium to accommodate an NFL team on the West Hall site of the Convention Center. That agreement is contingent on AEG identifying and bringing a team to Los Angeles by October 2014.

Shortly before the issue came before the council, AEG's owner, Phil Anschutz, announced that he was putting his entertainment conglomerate, which includes L.A. Live and Staples Center, on the market.

Then two weeks ago Anschutz stunned the City Hall establishment by announcing that he was taking AEG back off the block and that he had parted ways with Tim Leiweke, AEG's longtime public face in the city and the key deal maker on the stadium project.

Anschutz and the NFL have each said they are continuing to work together to bring an NFL franchise to the city. But frustrated City Hall officials say they have no choice but to begin making other plans.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, a committee member, said he was "still outraged" that Anschutz had cut ties with Leiweke, a respected figure in Los Angeles business, political and labor circles. "I'm very disappointed to hear that AEG is playing some games with us," he said.

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