Financing for Raiders Deal Is Millions Short, Memos Reveal

Times Staff Writers

A new exchange of angry memos among those who have been, at various stages, responsible for trying to put together Irwindale’s stadium deal with the Los Angeles Raiders is providing fresh evidence that the city remains short of financing for the $150-million project.

In one memo, sent late last week to Irwindale City Manager Charles Martin, attorney Robert Corrado, who was retained by the Irwindale City Council on this and other matters, remarks that the city is $35 million “short . . . in trying to finalize the deal with the Raiders.”

Corrado, criticizing a recently fired Irwindale negotiator with the Raiders, Fred Lyte, wrote at another point that Lyte’s failure to “deliver crucial items” of financing and political support for the project has left Corrado and other current negotiators “trying to keep the deal together without those crucial elements.”


Project ‘Jeopardized’

In a rebuttal memo released Tuesday that was also addressed to the city manager, Lyte said that the city’s stadium project with the Raiders is now “jeopardized” and suggested that the new negotiators are “amateurs.”

Lyte lamented the recent firing by the City Council of yet another negotiator, Washington attorney Kenneth Adams.

“I am sure that opponents of the Raider project are greatly amused at this turn of events,” Lyte remarked. He described Adams as “highly successful” in his efforts to defend and consummate the Irwindale-Raider deal and deplored “his replacement as attorney (for the city) by a criminal lawyer (Corrado) and another lawyer (Michael D. McCaffrey), both with little background in either this project or the sports field.”

Adams, dismissed March 23 by a 3-2 vote of the City Council, said in an interview Tuesday that the memos, and the public airing of financial shortfalls in the Raider negotiations, are “all very unfortunate.”

“At the point that I departed, I was confident that the deal could be financed,” Adams said. “It was a doable deal. Such stadium deals are always thin. This would not be easy. There were big obstacles, but it was doable.”

Now, however, Adams said he fears that “this kind of public dispute within the Irwindale group can only make it difficult for everyone to accomplish the people’s objective, which is to bring the Raiders to Irwindale.”

Raider officials, who have seen a parade of different Irwindale negotiators propose various arrangements to them in the nearly two years since the team first announced that it would move to the small San Gabriel Valley city from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, had no comment Tuesday on the latest developments.

In his memo, Corrado accused Lyte, then an Irwindale redevelopment consultant, of failing to deliver on financial or other support commitments “on four previous occasions in the Raider deal.” Specifically, Corrado cited Lyte’s assurances that:

- The Miller Brewing Co. would provide $19 million for advance payments to Raiders’ owner Al Davis.

- He would deliver $35 million from other major companies in the area to help fund the stadium construction.

- He would handle political problems with Los Angeles County government to secure parking land for the stadium.

- He would handle political problems over the parking with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Lyte, in his rebuttal, said the request to Miller brewery for the $19 million had been turned down before the Irwindale City Council had approved the idea of a Raider deal.

“As to my ‘promise’ to get major companies to contribute $35 million to the Raider project, I was legally stopped from doing this while Irwindale was under (a court restraining order delaying Raider negotiations) which ended in February, 1989,” Lyte said. He noted that he had been fired before the court order was lifted.

Because the court order banned any further negotiations until an environmental impact report was prepared, Lyte said he was legally barred from working on the political problems with the county and the Corps of Engineers.

Corrado also suggested in his memo that Lyte had recommended the services of the Washington law firm of Dickstein & Shapiro, for which Adams worked, in part because the firm employed Lyte’s son-in-law. The firm “cost the city more than $1 million in legal fees” before Adams was dismissed, he noted.

Lyte said that at the council’s request he conducted a search for a legal adviser “among about 30 leading law firms” and that in recommending Dickstein & Shapiro he had “fully disclosed that my son-in-law, Bruce Holcomb, was one of the 150 junior members” of that firm.