NFL’s return to L.A. takes new twist as Ed Roski retools offer
Reporting from Houston — The NFL stadium derby in Southern California is likely to get more interesting and competitive.
Real estate magnate Ed Roski, whose bid for a stadium in City of Industry has for months been lost in the shadows of a rival proposal next to Staples Center, has changed his offer to teams eyeing a relocation.
Roski has dropped his demand for a no-cash minority share of a franchise and instead is offering to hand over the 600 acres he controls to any team that relocates there. The team would then finance the stadium Roski has proposed, at a site recently renamed Grand Crossing, and sell him a share of the franchise at market rate.
Individuals familiar with the revised offer have confirmed it to The Times and spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of the proposal’s specific details.
Asked to comment on the information obtained, Roski said in an email: “I am continuing to work to bring NFL football back to Los Angeles. The stadium at Grand Crossing creates a winning environment for fans, for the community and for the NFL now.
“My goal is to bring football back to Los Angeles, create jobs now, and to create an incredible NFL experience every game day for fans.”
The AEG and Roski proposals are markedly different.
The downtown deal would call for AEG to assume the risk of financing and building the stadium. The team would not own the venue but would receive a large share of the revenue that the facility generates from football games and other events, similar to the deal the Lakers and Kings have at AEG’s Staples Center.
The Grand Crossing deal calls for the team to take the financial risk of building a stadium on no-cost land, and capture all of the revenue associated with the facility.
Roski touts his site as one ideally located to draw fans not just from L.A. but from Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties. He says it would take far less time and money to build the stadium he is proposing, one that has ample room for on-site parking and tailgating and could be ready for the 2014 season.
He has budgeted $16 million over the next six months to complete construction documents on an open-air stadium built into a hillside. That asymmetrical bowl would feature all general-admission seating on one side, with a gigantic video board facing those seats, and a tower of luxury suites on the other.
Tim Leiweke, point man for the downtown stadium, believes AEG’s Philip Anschutz could put a venue in a more strategic and appealing location, and that the deal — complete with naming rights already in place — would be much more financially attractive for a team. That stadium would rely primarily on existing parking and convenient public transportation.
NFL owners have quietly expressed concern that Anschutz is seeking to buy a non-controlling share of a franchise at a deep discount. That’s probably a jumping-off point for negotiations, although it is not known whether the Denver billionaire is willing to pay closer to market value for a piece of a team.
Representatives from AEG declined to comment for this story.
At their annual fall meeting Tuesday in Houston, NFL owners are expected to get a brief update on the L.A. situation, but there will not be presentations from either of the competing projects.
In his original offer, Roski wanted to trade the opportunity to build on his land — a plot near the intersection of the 57 and 60 freeways that is entitled for a stadium —– for one-quarter ownership of a team. There were no takers. The new offer calls for his buying an undisclosed percentage in a team — after selling his Las Vegas hotel and casino, in accordance with NFL rules — with no path to controlling ownership of the team.
Roski also would allow the team to control the entire site, nearly a rectangular mile, with the understanding that he would never use any part of it for a development of his own.
The San Diego Chargers are believed to be the most likely team to relocate, although the Raiders also have the ability to get out of their lease in Oakland, and the death of owner Al Davis on Saturday could leave that franchise in flux, possibly increasing the likelihood of relocation.
Other teams in the mix include the St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers, although some of those would be extremely difficult to move.
It remains to be seen if, and/or how, Roski’s retooled offer will change the stadium competition. For more than a year, AEG has had all the momentum, securing a naming-rights deal with Farmers Insurance for its proposed stadium, a nonbinding agreement with the city that paves the way to relocate the West Hall of the convention center — where the new venue would be situated — and striking a deal with the state creating legal limitations for anyone looking to challenge the stadium’s environmental impact report (EIR), which has yet to be completed.
AEG is in the process of completing an EIR on the project and construction papers on the stadium and a replacement for the West Hall.
It suits the NFL to have as many legitimate stadium options as possible to create competition that leads to a more favorable deal for a team.
Asked specifically about the Roski deal, and how it could affect the decision-making process for a team and the NFL, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said: “We continue to closely monitor all developments in the Los Angeles area. At the moment, there’s nothing to make a decision about.”
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