NFL mailbag: What’s happening in City of Industry?


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I received an interesting and informed e-mail the other day from David Landes, who’s in the commercial real estate business in San Diego. He had some questions about Ed Roski’s stadium proposal in City of Industry.

Here is the letter, with my answers in italics:

Mr. Farmer,

I think it would be interesting to outline the issues (non-partisan) regarding the potential stadium development in the City of Industry.


Q: Roski doesn’t own the land in the City of Industry, he has a long-term lease. The City officials have been quoted as saying that any deal would involve the city as a partner in the profits. If Roski has to share the profits with the city, how attractive is his stadium plan to an NFL franchise looking to relocate?

I don’t see that as a problem. One of the most attractive aspects of Roski’s concept is the relative absence of politics, compared to, say, a deal in Los Angeles proper or Pasadena. He wields huge influence in Industry, and you can bet he’d formulate a deal that would be amenable to both the NFL and the city.

Q: Roski’s personal wealth is tied closely to real estate. He is certainly not as wealthy as he was 12-24 months ago, and all indications are that new retail/office/hotel development is dead for the near future. Does anyone think that he can get financing in this market?

You’re right, there’s next to no financing in this market for these types of mega-deals. But remember, Roski has yet to cross the t’s and dot the i’s on his environmental impact report, nor does he have a team. So he’s not going to be trying to finance the deal until late 2009 at the earliest. Who knows what the market will be like then, right?

Q: Roski is in his early 70s. Most NFL owners are looking to plan their estates at this point of their lives. Has any NFL owner bought a team and/or developed a stadium at his age? I know that real estate development is his passion but he is certainly bucking the trend.

Actually, Roski was born on Christmas in 1938, so he’s 69. He prides himself in staying in top shape, so I don’t think his age is even a consideration for him. Look at Kirk Kirkorian; he’s 91.

Q: He will be required to sell his casino holdings in order to be considered for an NFL ownership. Is he really willing to sell at the bottom?


That’s a great question. John Semcken, Roski’s right-hand man, tells me Roski is ready to do whatever is necessary to make this deal work. But that’s a biggie, because Roski is in the middle of a huge renovation at his Silverton Casino in Las Vegas, and now is definitely not the time to sell that property. It’s a non-negotiable for the NFL, though. If he doesn’t completely divest himself of any gaming enterprises, he doesn’t stand a chance.

Q: Can you get the real scoop on his negotiations with the Rose Bowl?

My sources tell me that Roski is trying to lock up the Rose Bowl for at least three seasons so a relocating team can play there. The difficult part of those negotiations will be that UCLA has veto power over the NFL in Pasadena, just as USC has veto power at the Coliseum. Also, UCLA gives up a lot to the Rose Bowl that no NFL team could (or would) give up, including some TV revenue, lots of advertising revenue, suite revenue and the like.

-- Sam Farmer