OUTSIDE SPORTS: LA City Council approves new football stadium — if a team will sign

ladot.bikeblog.org

Eitan Rothman, Staff Writer

On August 9, the Los Angeles City Council okayed the outline of a financial plan between Anschutz Entertainment Group and the city of Los Angeles to begin the construction of  a new football stadium,* to be called Farmers Field.

“This is a significant project for our city and it will bring football back to this city,” Councilwoman Jan Perry told espn.com. “This sends a very clear message we are serious about bringing football back to Los Angeles.”

Costing $1.2 billion, the new stadium would be built into a wing of the Los Angeles Convention Center, adjacent to Staples Center where the Lakers, Clippers, and Kings play.

But while this is a big step toward breaking ground on the project, a finalized deal with the city is not expected for at least 10 more months. An environmental impact report is unlikely to be completed until May of next year.

In addition, the contract states that construction cannot begin until a team signs a lease to play in Los Angeles. Since the NFL is not expanding, this has gotten many local fans wondering which team will sign to play in LA.

Currently, the San Diego Chargers are the most connected to the Los Angeles Stadium since they have been trying for 10 years to renovate or replace the 45-year-old Qualcomm Stadium where they currently play.

The only tie left between the Chargers and Qualcomm is money that was invested into the expansion of their stadium in 1997, estimated at $24 million. As long as long as this is paid off before May 1, 2012, the Chargerscan sign into a lease agreement with the new Los Angeles Stadium, and play at either the Rose Bowl or the Los Angeles Coliseum until Farmers Field would be completed in 2016.

Los Angeles hasn’t had a pro football team since 1994, when the L.A. Rams left for St. Louis.   At the moment, a rebirth still seems pretty far away.

Meanwhile, the NBA lockout is still in effect after the NBA shut out its players on July 1 when their collective bargaining agreement expired.

“We had a great year in terms of the appreciation of our fans for our game — it just wasn’t a profitable one for the owners, and it wasn’t one that many of the smaller market teams particularly enjoyed or felt included in,” Commissioner David Stern told the Associated Press when the lockout started in July.

“The goal here has been to make the league profitable and to have a league where all 30 teams can compete.”

The lockout is rooted in a massive financial loss — over $300 million dollars last season — with only eight of the league’s 30 teams ending the season with a surplus.

The owners want to reduce the league’s salary cap to $45 million and make it a “hard cap,” meaning that a team cannot exceed that amount in total salaries no matter what. The current “soft” cap is $58 million, and a team can go over it but must pay a per-dollar fine.

While the players were willing to accept some of the owners’ requests, the two sides could not reach agreement and so negotiations were cut off resulting in the current situation.

“I know there are a lot of our fans and people that follow our game that, although we’re not going to miss any games at this point, still just don’t like the prospect of a lockout,” said Derek Fisher a representative of the player’s untion, on NBA.com,  “We don’t like it either.”

That makes two sports on hold in Los Angeles – football and basketball.