George Lucas has another suitor for his planned art museum -- and it’s the city of Los Angeles.
Mayor Eric Garcetti recently reached out to the “Star Wars” filmmaker in a letter expressing interest in bringing the museum to the L.A. area. Garcetti is tentatively proposing the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, located near USC, which is where Lucas studied film in the 1960s.
The plan would be to tear down the arena, which opened in 1959, and to build the museum on the site. There’s already an approved environmental impact report concerning the possible demolition of the arena, according to Molly Fowler, a spokeswoman for Garcetti.
She said the mayor is eager to help museum officials expedite the construction process should Lucas choose L.A. The mayor would also help convene a body of cross-industry advisors that would help in the construction, she said.
Garcetti has not had any official response from Lucas, Fowler said, and wasn’t immediately available for comment.
In the letter, which was sent last week and has been posted on the mayor’s website, Garcetti told Lucas and the filmmaker’s wife, Mellody Hobson, that “we’d like you to consider opening your museum in a place where its impact can be amplified like no other, Los Angeles.”
The letter lists a number of factors favoring an L.A. location, including the proposed site’s proximity to other cultural destination spots and the 42.2 million tourists who visit the city annually. The arena site is located near Exposition Park, which contains the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center.
The arena, which is owned by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, has traditionally served as a venue for sports and pop music events.
So far, Lucas has considered San Francisco and Chicago as possible locations for the museum, which is expected to have a price tag in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The museum will feature art from his personal collection -- including works by Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and Maxwell Parrish -- as well as exhibitions on the motion picture industry and digital media.
San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee recently proposed a 2.3-acre lot across from the city’s Embarcadero as a site for the museum.
Lucas had previously wanted to build his museum at a site across from Crissy Field in San Francisco. But earlier this year, the Presidio Trust rejected that site and instead offered the filmmaker a site near his Letterman Digital Arts Center.
Chicago has proposed that Lucas construct his museum on the city’s lakefront museum campus that also serves as home to the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum.
Garcetti’s office has launched a social media effort to try to drum up local interest in the museum. Using Twitter, the mayor is attempting to create an online swell in an effort to persuade Lucas on L.A.
One photo tweeted by Garcetti’s office shows the mayor holding a sign featuring R2-D2 -- the adorable droid from “Star Wars -- who is sporting the letters “LA” and is standing beside the Twitter search term #WhyLucasInLA.
The hashtag has already caught on Twitter. Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents California’s 28th District that includes large parts of L.A., tweeted his support on Friday: “Better climate than Hoth, more visitors & tourists than Mos Eisley spaceport, and Sith-free since ’93!"