L.A. Mayor Garcetti not ready to give up on downtown stadium plan

Mayor Eric Garcetti says he still believes a stadium deal for downtown L.A. makes sense

AEG may have shelved its plans for a downtown Los Angeles football stadium, but Mayor Eric Garcetti sounds as if he’s still willing to dust them off.

In an “Ask the Mayor” segment on KNX-AM (1070) radio on Thursday, Garcetti said news of the project’s demise was “overreported” after AEG announced last week that it was bowing out of its Farmers Field proposal next to the Los Angeles Convention Center. Even if the sports and entertainment giant is no longer interested, Garcetti suggested that city officials would be open to the idea of someone else picking up the project.

“We have a good stadium deal downtown if anybody wants to take us up on it,” he said. “The environmental work is already done. There’s political consensus around it. We’re ready to go.”

Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb later said the mayor was simply pointing out that until an alternative plan for the site is finalized downtown L.A. has a stadium site that is “fully entitled and available.”

Still, AEG’s Farmers Field development deal with the city expires April 17 and the company has said it will not seek an extension. It’s unclear how the proposal – which won full city approvals in 2012 – might be transferred to a different developer. A spokesman for AEG did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The challenge for AEG and Farmers Field had always been securing a team to play in the stadium; in recent months, three teams have announced stadium projects of their own in the Southland – St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke in Inglewood and the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders in Carson.

That left AEG as an odd man out, despite thoughts in some corners that the NFL might prefer a downtown stadium. Although the company says it has stopped talking with the NFL and with teams, it has continued to voice concerns about competing projects, funding studies about safety risks at Inglewood, and warning about lack of environmental review in Carson.

A downtown L.A. stadium was to be a key ingredient in financing improvements to the Convention Center, with AEG on board to fund $315 million in upgrades. Now the city will need to raise that money in other ways, possibly including issuing bonds.

Still, Garcetti has said that the city can’t wait indefinitely on Farmers Field before it improves the Convention Center, and Robb said that is now the main goal.

“Our primary focus is accelerating downtown’s revitalization and improving our convention center,” he said. “That continues full steam ahead.”

As for football, Garcetti said he’ll be a fan of whatever team someday comes, wherever in the region it might land.

“Even though I think downtown is the first choice, I will embrace an NFL team whether that’s in Inglewood or Carson, whether it’s up at Dodger Stadium or anyplace else,” he said. “We’re all one city.”

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