High school football players rubbed shoulders with construction workers and basketball great-turned businessman Magic Johnson at the first City Council meeting to consider a proposed downtown NFL stadium.
“The main thing it’s going to bring is jobs," said Johnson. "We need jobs in this city.”
Hundreds in the standing-room-only crowd spilled out of council chambers into the rotunda and out the door. Close to 50 people spoke on the stadium issue, including several workers groups voicing their support for the project.
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“In total, Farmers Field will create 30-thousand good paying jobs for working men and women in LA,” said Rusty Hicks, La County Federation of Labor political director. “By expanding and renovating the convention center, the project will make LA a real destination for large convention and trade shows.”
"We're here to ask ... today if they build it what will come," said Council President Eric Garcetti, who said the hearing would be the first time many citizens would hear the details of the plan. "How many jobs will be created? How will the city's budget be protected?"
Anschutz Entertainment Group wants to build a $1.2 billion football stadium, convention hall and two parking structures on city-owned land downtown. City officials recently released a draft agreement between the city and AEG that details how the plan would be financed, including $275 million of city-issued bonds.
A committee of five members has been holding public hearings on the plan this week.
Venice High School football coach Derek Fulwilder brought about 30 of his players along to show support for bringing an National Football League team to Los Angeles.
"The age of most of these kids is 15 or 16, about the time since we last had a football team in this city," Fulwilder said.
"This is the second biggest media market in the country, and we don't have a professional football team. How un-American is that?'' he said. "Some people say baseball is America's pastime. I beg to differ."
Members of the Dorsey and Roosevelt high school football teams were also at City Hall.
But not everyone in the crowd was in support of building the stadium, especially those who live downtown.
“We have had problems with traffic, car robberies, parking situations.. since Staples Center opened up," said Jane Scott, a resident who opposes the stadium being built. "If this deal, which I’m sure is a done deal.. and this is a dog and pony show, then there has to be something very, very permanent to protect our community."
Councilman Jose Huizar echoed some of Scotts concerns, specifically asking about what transportation mitigation efforts might be taken to accommodate 70,000-plus fans on football Sundays with "a mere 1,600 net new parking spaces."
"Transit is a critical issue for us," AEG Chief Legal Officer Ted Fikre told Huizar, adding that it would be a top priority during the environmental impact report process over the next 10 months. "We expect this to be a very transit-friendly project," Fikre said.
The city's chief legislative analyst, city consultants and AEG President Tim Leiweke planned to give presentations on the plan and answer questions from the council, but the deal sounds as if it's a done deal.
"I think what it’s going to mean is football is coming back to LA," said councilwoman Jan Perry and we’ll have new jobs to put people back to work. We’ll have a new convention center and events center or a stadium not built at taxpayer expense."