LOS ANGELES -- Anschutz Entertainment Group, the developer behind the proposed $1.5 billion Farmers Field project to build a National Football League stadium in downtown Los Angeles and modernize the city’s convention center, released a 10,000-page draft environmental impact report Thursday.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in September to give the developer of the voluminous EIR an expedited approval process, but the draft took 18 months to complete, according to information released by Michael Roth, AEG’s spokesman.
Adoption of a final EIR is considered a major hurdle in construction projects moving forward in California.
Residents will have 45 days to comment on the draft. The report then heads to the City Council and the mayor for final approval on May 21, after which it will be open to legal challenges for 175 days.
In the week leading up to the EIR’s release, the local press has been saturated with reports on AEG’s attempt to bring a football team to the city, which has been without one since 1994.
Using unnamed sources, a Yahoo sports blog reported that Phil Anschutz, AEG’s owner, was vying for a minority ownership in a team at a discounted rate while charging the team rent to use the stadium, terms unlikely to appeal to the NFL.
Tim Leiweke, AEG’s chief executive, discounted the report in a Los Angeles Times interview, saying Anschutz would be willing to purchase a team outright if that is what it took. He also told the Times that if an agreement with an NFL team could not be reached, the developer still wanted to go ahead with plans to construct a convention center.
Roth failed to respond to questions about negotiations with the NFL before deadline.
During a presentation about the stadium at the Los Angeles investors conference last week, Leiweke said they probably won’t resume negotiations for a team until next February, because that is the soonest a team would be able to transfer.
“We are focused on getting the EIR approved,” Leiweke said.
With $3 billion of the $6 billion company invested in the LA Live project, Leiweke said his company is as dedicated as city leaders are to seeing a new convention center developed as part of the project. The Farmers Field project will crank that total up to $4.5 billion.
“We want to build a facility that gives us the economics to compete with the rest of the country for convention center business,” he said.
The developer agreed to environmental concessions that would make the stadium the most environmentally friendly in the nation as part of the legislation to expedite the process, according to Roth’s report.
Among those concessions is that the stadium has to be designed in such a way that more stadium-goers are arriving via mass transit than by car.
AEG would pay for upgrades at 73 intersections in the area around the stadium and pay Caltrans $2.5 million to add a lane on the 101 freeway where an interchange backs up traffic on the 110 freeway. It would also commit $10 million to pay for an expanded light-rail platform at 11th and Hope streets.
The City Council approved a nonbinding agreement with AEG in August under which the developer would raze half of the city’s convention center and two parking garages to make way for the stadium. The city would use adjacent land it owns to construct a replacement hall for the convention center.
AEG would pay a fair-market value to lease the city-owned land under the stadium. The money from the lease will be used to pay off $275 million of tax-exempt bonds to build the new convention center hall.