The Los Angeles City Council moved the chains Tuesday on a plan that could bring football back to Los Angeles.
The council unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which is part of a deal to build a $1.3 billion football stadium and convention hall downtown. The proposal by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) calls for the construction of a 72,000-seat facility that would sit next to the Staples Center-LA Live Campus.
The vote on the MOU -- a framework for future discussions -- allows city leaders to later vote on binding agreements with developer Anschutz Entertainment Group on the project's financing, leasing arrangements and other details. Votes on those issues are expected to happen over the next nine months.
AEG still has a major challenge before reaching the endzone: Getting a commitment from an NFL team to move to Los Angeles.
Tuesday's public comments period included several speakers who stated their support for the project. Most cited the potential job impact.
"We can't tax our way out of this recession," said Councilmember Jan Perry. "We need to grow our way out, and this project will help do just that."
About the Memorandum of Understanding
The memorandum, which requires a full Environmental Impact Review of the project, details a 55-year lease for the land under the existing West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. AEG would pay about $6.5 million for the land where the developer would build the stadium and parking structure.
It also spells out a financing plan for AEG to construct a convention center hall, which officials claim would boost the city from 15th to fifth place in the nation in terms of convention hall space.
AEG President Tim Leiweke said he was confident the council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would endorse the framework for a final contract. Approval of the draft MOU, he said, would be a "critical milestone in our efforts to break ground on this project within the next year.''
AEG officials said they hope to have the stadium completed in time for the start of the 2016 NFL season.
The agreement would require the city to make two tax-exempt bond issues totaling $275 million for the construction of a new convention hall. It stipulates that nearly three-quarters of the bonds would be repaid by AEG directly. The remaining 27 percent would be covered by tax revenues generated by the stadium.
"Taxpayers will not be left holding the bag," said Councilmember Bill Rosendahl. "There will be jobs. This isn't a pig and a poke."
Councilmembers Rosendahl, Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian at one point stated opposition to the project. The all voted Tuesday in favor of moving the plan forward.
Under the draft agreement, the project could not go forward without an NFL team agreeing to stay in Los Angeles for at least 30 years, or the term of the bonds, whichever is longer. AEG could also make a deal for a second team to play at the stadium.