Mayor Eric Garcetti says it's "highly likely" that a National Football League team will move to Los Angeles next year, that the league is "finally interested" in our fair city again. Oh really?
This sounds familiar. Remember the talk back in 2012, after the City Council signed off on Anschutz Entertainment Group's stadium proposal?
"This is the best deal ever made in the history of the NFL for a stadium," then-AEG Chief Executive Tim Leiweke said in September 2012. "We're the closest we've ever been to returning the NFL to L.A."
Then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa followed up a few weeks later, after he'd met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and said AEG was on track to announce a team, or possibly two, by March 2013.
But by March, it was clear that no NFL team was moving to Los Angeles. Without a team committed to using the stadium, the project will not move forward.
AEG's stadium deal with the city expires on Oct. 18 and the company has asked the City Council and Garcetti for a six-month extension for one, final opportunity to sign a professional football team. A City Council committee on Friday OK'd the extension and the full council will vote next week. In exchange for the six-month reprieve, AEG offered to foot the entire $750,000 bill for a design competition to modernize and expand the outdated convention center, also known as Plan B. AEG will also submit its own design proposal.
Sounds good, right? L.A. keeps the door open a little longer for the NFL and AEG picks up the tab for studying the convention center overhaul.
Except, nobody is stopping to ask if L.A. still wants or needs a stadium or a fancy new convention center. Downtown continues to grow as a residential, commercial and entertainment destination, and attract investors. Is downtown still a good fit for a football stadium, which typically comes with "noisy traffic, exhaust, constant horn honking, urinating, swearing and fighting," according a neighbor near the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara?
As for Plan B, does L.A. really want to double down on a huge convention center that could cost half a billion dollars or more and will sit empty much of the time, when attendance at conventions nationally has been on the decline? Does this proposal pencil out when L.A. will have to offer big tax breaks to attract the hotels needed to support a larger convention center? Could L.A. do with a smaller convention center? Or a different kind of facility?
Maybe L.A. officials can still justify the stadium or a bigger convention center. The problem is they are not having that discussion. But they should. Instead, Garcetti and the City Council continue to have an unhealthy fixation on the fact that the nation's second largest city doesn't have a professional football team or a "world-class convention center," whatever that means.