The billionaire developer behind a proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles is willing to buy a team to make the deal work if he can reach a reasonable agreement with the NFL, his top executive told the LA Times.
Philip Anschutz is willing to write a check for the stadium and a team if he can work out a "win-win" deal with the league, Anschutz Entertainment Group president Tim Leiweke told the Los Angeles Times during an interview Monday. The statement comes three days before the company is expected to issue a more than 10,000-page environmental impact report for the stadium project.
"Phil is now completely engaged in this process," Leiweke told the Times. "And the only thing he won't do is get leveraged to the point of doing a stupid deal on a team. But if this is about finding a win-win for the NFL and Phil Anschutz, he is prepared to write that check now, subject to getting done with the [environmental impact report]."
Anschutz, whose net worth was estimated at $7 billion by Forbe's magazine, previously indicated he would only be interested in buying part of a team, relying on other buyers to help bring the NFL back to Los Angeles for the first time since the Raiders left for Oakland after the 1994 season. AEG already operates Staples Center and Nokia Theatre, and a downtown stadium would give the Denver-based Anschutz another major development in the area.
The submission of the impact report will be followed by a 45-day public comment period. Any legal challenges to the EIR would need to be resolved within a 175-day window after the public comment period.
During a March appearance on NBC4's NewsConference, Leiweke hauled in the preliminary EIR -- seven massive binders of documents.
"Many people worry at the end of the day that there's some hidden agenda here that we're going to come back to the general fund, which we're not, or that this Environmental Impact Report wouldn't have been thorough," Leiweke said.
Approval of the EIR would put the downtown proposal on equal ground with a stadium proposal in the city of Industry by March 2013, Leiweke told the Times. The EIR includes measures to ease traffic congestion, including freeway improvements and light-rail expansion.
An executive summary of the EIR will be posted online.
The Times' interview also touched on last week's announcement that a business group including former Laker Magic Johnson reached an agreement to buy the LA Dodgers for $2 billion. Leiweke told the Times that the new Dodgers owner could propose a football stadium at the team's Chavez Ravine location, but he did not provide details on discussions with Guggenheim Baseball Management.
In October, Johnson told USA Today he would be "interested" in bringing an NFL team to Los Angeles.
There are no NFL teams for sale, right now, and the league has not announced immediate plans for expansion.