Despite the withdrawal of support by four Santa Ana City Council members for a plan to build the Westdome sports arena at a downtown site, the developers said Friday they believe they can still build the facility in Santa Ana or elsewhere in Orange County.
Don Oliphant, one of four partners in the Westdome project, said they would have to find out whether a $40-million bond issue can be used to finance an arena at a location other than the downtown site at Flower Street and Civic Center Drive that is specified in the bond issue. Oliphant vowed that the arena will be constructed eventually, either somewhere else in Orange County or "somewhere else in Santa Ana. I'd say that any other options (the city) comes up with, we would seriously consider."
Vote Set Monday
Mayor Daniel E. Griset and Councilmen Dan Young, Robert W. Luxembourger and Wilson B. Hart have said they will vote Monday to eliminate the downtown site from consideration. As the main reason for their action, they cited opposition from residents who fear that traffic, noise and pollution caused by the project could not be held to an acceptable level.
The developers said they believe that the action by the mayor and councilmen is designed to end political turmoil over the issue in an election year. Representatives of Save Our Stadium, an organization that opposes the downtown arena site, applauded the councilmen's stand but agreed with the developers that it probably was politically motivated.
Oliphant said the partners would not take any legal action against the city over the issue.
To Ask for IRS Ruling
Griset said the city will be working with the developers to try to select another site. The city also will apply to the Internal Revenue Service for a ruling on whether the bonds can be used to finance an arena on another site.
Hart said he believes that a site at MacArthur and Harbor boulevards would be a good location for the arena and stressed that he would like to continue working with the Westdome partners.
City Manager Robert C. Bobb said he is not ready to give up on Westdome. "My job and the city administration's job is to make it happen" somewhere in Santa Ana, he said.
Councilman John Acosta and Vice Mayor P. Lee Johnson said they still support a downtown arena. Councilwoman Patricia A. McGuigan was out of town and could not be reached for comment.