Editorial: Downtown Questions

Downtown Los Angelese

Downtown NFL Plan Leaves Questions

By Steve Lambert, Whittier Daily News

Game on.

Just when it appeared nothing could stop plans for an NFL stadium at the 60 and 57 freeways, some trick moves by a flashy free agent have left fans wondering who's got the ball.

First things first: L.A. is going to get an NFL team and along with it, a state-of-the-art stadium.

And unless the league fumbles the ball, team and venue will be right here in the San Gabriel Valley.

That doesn't sit well with some in Tinseltown, who have blindly jumped on board AEG honcho Tim Leiweke's rather sudden proposal to build a stadium downtown.

Something about a 75,000- or 80,000-fan football arena near Staples Center has them drooling like star-struck fans at a Justin Bieber concert.

The reality is it doesn't and won't pencil out.

With Ed Roski ready to break ground on his privately financed $800 million stadium in Industry, Leiweke has taken to making bold promises about what he can deliver with his alternative.

And that's just what it is at this point - an alternative, with no plan that we've seen and far more questions than answers.

Atop that list of things that don't add up is money.

Leiweke is seeking proposals for a $725 million retractable roof stadium - sort of like what the Dallas Cowboys built for $1.2 billion or the Giants-Jets' $1.7 billion New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey.

Really? He can do it that much cheaper?

Consider:

The Dallas andMeadowlands stadiums bypassed pricey downtown real estate and avoided the kind of expensive earthquake safeguards needed here.

Leiweke would build from the ground up; Roski's plan saves millions on steel and concrete by using the hillsides as part of the stadium design.

The downtown plan calls for demolition of the current L.A. Convention Center, which brings hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the city. Though it would eventually be rebuilt, at what cost and paid for by whom? And why is a new center even necessary when the existing one could be expanded on at considerably less cost?

Could it be that the "new" convention center is merely leverage to bring public funding into the mix?

And what about the location itself?

Industry is at the geographic heart of a regional team's fan base, and actually closer to much of the west side when you factor in traffic (think number of cars for a packed event at the Staples Center, times four) than downtown. And if a stadium does go downtown, where are you going to put those cars - and tailgaters - once they get there?

For now, it's a moot point. The NFL won't decide on an L.A. franchise until it gets a new collective bargaining agreement.

In the meantime, cover your ears. The game time noise from downtown is deafening.

Steve Lambert is editor and publisher of the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group.

Original Article: Whittier Daily News

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