Much Is Possible With NFL

Times Staff Writer

DEARBORN, Mich. ā€” As part of this week's meeting of NFL owners, Detroit's host committee today will unveil its logo for Super Bowl XL. The league, meanwhile, is expected to once again dangle an XXL incentive ā€” the potential awarding of a future Super Bowl ā€” to at least three cities it thinks are in need of new stadiums, among them Los Angeles.

Although there won't be any final Super Bowl decisions made at the two-day meetings, possible sites likely to be discussed include Arlington, Texas, and Kansas City, Mo., where stadium issues hinge on Tuesday ballot measures; and Los Angeles, where the league hopes to put a team within five years.

"Whenever long-term Super Bowl plans are discussed, we always have Los Angeles listed with an asterisk as a possible site in future years," said Joe Browne, an NFL vice president. "We'd very much like to remove that asterisk."

There's also a good chance the league will take steps toward eliminating Carson from the L.A.-area stadium derby. Carson has slipped significantly behind Anaheim, the Coliseum and the Rose Bowl in the selection process, and several key owners have indicated it might be time to give up on the concept of building a stadium on the 157-acre landfill.

Steve Hopkins, the shopping-mall developer who has control of the Carson site, hopes to move forward within a week on an environmental-impact report that will focus on four mixed-use scenarios, two with a stadium and two without.

Hopkins asked the NFL to pay a prorated portion of the report's cost, less than $200,000, to cover the expense of including a proposed stadium in the study. The league declined.

"I guess I was a little surprised by that," he said. "But that's certainly not going to stop usĀ…. We're committed to working with the NFL, but we have what we think is a fantastic mixed-use plan. We're not going to be left at the altar."

The league's committee working on the L.A.-area situation will meet today in Detroit for an hour; it is then expected to give owners a brief update Thursday. Also that afternoon, the Super Bowl committee is scheduled to deliver a briefing on potential future sites.

Jacksonville, Fla., Detroit, Miami and Phoenix will play host to the next four Super Bowls, leaving 2009 as the next available date. That dovetails with the NFL's desire to have a relocated or expansion team in L.A. in time for the 2008 season, although league executives recently have acknowledged they might have to push their time schedule back a year or even two to compensate for the complex, often glacial process of getting a major project on track in Southern California.

League executives have said the NFL will pay to construct a stadium in the nation's second-largest market, then pass along that cost to the team owner. A Super Bowl can be used as a tool to help offset the roughly $500-million cost.

In support of the Coliseum, Los Angeles Councilman Bernard C. Parks and Pat Lynch, the stadium's general manager, plan to be at the hotel where the meetings are taking place, informally touch base with league executives and owners, and gather information. No one from the other three sites is expected to attend the meetings.

The Coliseum has a completed environmental-impact report and architectural plans that involve building a stadium within the historic walls of the current one. In May, the Coliseum Commission received the framework of an agreement from the NFL, a "term sheet," and since has been negotiating deal points with the league.

Among the things the NFL wants from the Coliseum is more parking. There are roughly 8,000 spaces surrounding the stadium, and 2,100 more in a parking garage nearby that opened recently and is being used for the first time this USC football season. The ground-breaking ceremony for a USC basketball arena is scheduled for Sunday, meaning the Sports Arena will be one step closer to extinction. That could clear the way for more parking spaces.

"The parking plans have now been addressed, not totally, but in the big picture," Lynch said. "We could always use more, but we're in pretty good shape there."

Things appear to be moving along smoothly in Anaheim, where city officials met with NFL executives this month and have spoken numerous times by phone to discuss negotiating criteria.

The Anaheim City Council last month approved their general terms, which include that the stadium must financially benefit the city, be a "state-of-the-art showcase" that complements the area, and effectively manage traffic and event parking. So far, city spokesman John Nicoletti said, "we don't see too many obstacles. There's no major obstructions at this point from either side."

Although the NFL likes the latest plan for a redesigned Rose Bowl, the concept has drawn stinging criticism from Pasadena's powerful historic preservationists who think the changes would add too much height and girth to the low-slung bowl. Darryl Dunn, the stadium's general manager, said those people in favor of bringing the NFL to Pasadena are trying to strike an agreeable balance.

"Keeping the landmark status is important to us," he said. "But it's also important to secure the economic future of the stadium. The NFL has given us a valuable opportunity to do that."

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Times staff writer Kimi Yoshino contributed to this report.

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