Senate Creates Panel on Football

Times Staff Writer

Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson announced Friday the creation of a Select Committee on Professional Sports that will look at the potential economic benefits of bringing a football franchise back to the Memorial Coliseum.

Newly elected Assemblyman Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), whose district includes the Coliseum, was appointed chairman of the committee. He said the panel will study the economic impact of having professional football franchises in California as well as hosting the Super Bowl.

“It will for the first time at the state level provide a comprehensive review of the impact of franchises on the state and cities,” said Ridley-Thomas, who promoted the Coliseum to the National Football League while a member of the Los Angeles City Council. “It is to help clarify the benefits of having a franchise in Los Angeles and to facilitate a favorable outcome.”


Because the Coliseum is on state land, the state has an interest in making sure that asset is used to its maximum potential, Ridley-Thomas said.

The committee, which Wesson said he created at Ridley-Thomas’ request, will hold hearings in San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego to examine the impact of NFL franchises on those cities, as well as holding a hearing in Los Angeles.

The lawmaker said the information gathered will lay the groundwork for discussions on whether the state and city should take actions, such as providing tax incentives, to lure a franchise to Los Angeles.

Ridley-Thomas said he was encouraged by a study this week that narrowed to three the number of sites the city is considering for a football stadium and found the Coliseum to be the least costly alternative.

However, Councilman Nick Pacheco noted the NFL has repeatedly signaled a lack of interest in bringing a team back to the Coliseum, which was abandoned by the Rams and the Raiders.

“They don’t want to go to the Coliseum,” said Pacheco, who favors a site near Union Station.


Other public officials voiced skepticism about the state or city being able to provide financial incentives or assistance amid the budget crisis.

“I’m a strong believer that any stadium deal needs to work financially on its own without public support,” Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-Northridge) said.

Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss agreed.

“The NFL ought to be ponying up to the bar and saying, ‘What is in it for us,’ rather than this unseemly rush by city officials to convince the NFL to come here,” Weiss said.

Ridley-Thomas said he hopes to overcome such resistance. “I’m confident there is not the awareness there could be, but we will look at the pros and cons so people can make up their own minds.”