DionRabouin.com (sort of)

Football is (probably) coming back to LA!

Posted in Articles by dionrabouin on July 26, 2011

(written for OnCentral.org)

Farmer’s Field will bring jobs, patrons and events to downtown Los Angeles. But the benefits to surrounding communities were discussed at a community briefing for South Los Angeles this weekend.

On Saturday morning the Anschutz Entertainment Group, better known as AEG, held a community briefing for residents of South LA. The group wants to bring Farmer’s Field — the name for the football stadium near the Staples Center and L.A. Live. The plan also includes a multimillion dollar plan to upgrade the Los Angeles convention center.

George Castillo, a Pico-Union native and the vice president of CMTS Inc. construction, walked into the briefing concerned about how the proposed stadium, which will seat between 72,000 and 76,500 people, might add undue congestion to an already traffic-heavy area.

“There’s barely enough parking for the staples center, how are they gonna manage a 70,000 person facility?” Castillo said.

Initially, Castillo said he was more supportive of a stadium being built in the city of Industry, but after the presentation by AEG’s Chief Marketing Officer Sean Dee, Castillo quickly became a supporter of the downtown project.

“The more I hear about this project and the more my eyes are opened, I see the value beyond the face value and [that is] economic prosperity for the community overall,” he said. “Not just the football game or a concert once a week, but now it becomes a vibrant driver to benefit the economy in downtown LA.”

But not everyone is convinced.

“It is like always, the money that business is supposed to create, like L.A. Live, it does not get reinvested in the community,” said Lupe Ramos-Silva, a community activist. “People come and consume and leave. This is another venue and another AEG project that we need to really see how this is going to help the community.”

Ramos-Silva said another concern is whether the promised jobs from the project — AEG has said it will create 18,000 temporary and permanent living wage and union jobs — will go to local residents or whether they will be taken by others from outside the community.

“I want to see that the people hired for these construction jobs are people that are in the South Central community,” she said.

LA City Council members Bernard Parks, Herb Wesson and Jan Perry, who is the chair of ad-hoc committee on the stadium, were in attendance and all three expressed optimism at what they have heard from AEG thus far.

“We’re very, very keenly interested and supportive of creating this stadium and event center so that the city of Los Angeles can become even more competitive in the worldwide market,” Perry said. “It’ll be beyond our imagination, I think. I think it’s gonna have an impact upon the entire city, in terms of bringing in brand new revenue.”

AEG has also said the stadium and convention centers will generate $1.9 billion in economic output and $41 million annually to the city, state and county. These numbers will be corroborated by a team of independent economists, two hired by AEG and one hired by the city. All three economists, however, will be paid for by AEG.

Parks said that while the issue of who’s paying the bill has been a sore spot for some, he doesn’t believe it is a problem.

“People bring that up, but the key is [AEG] had nothing to do with the selection of the economist, they had nothing to do with the report,” he said in reference to the Environmental Impact Report that is being conducted. “They paid the money, which we think is reasonable, but the people that got the job got paid by the city of LA. I don’t think any of those economists walked away from that job saying, ‘Well, AEG gave us the money.’”

The Council will hold three open meetings this week. One on July 27 at City Hall, one at Van Nuys City Hall on July 28 and a full committee meeting devoted entirely to the project on July 29. Parks said that nothing has been decided, but at the moment he likes the proposition.

“We’ll be listening to what people are saying, we’ll get all of that material and paperwork,” he said. “Unless something dramatic shifts, I think we’re going down a path where this looks like a good deal for the city.”


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