NFL Team Could Also Mean Conventions

"NFL Stadium" means football, but it also means conventions, and Los Angeles isn't getting its share of either.

Full Text: Financing Proposal Memorandum of Understanding

A new stadium could solve both problems, backers say. With no professional football team and only a fraction of the convention traffic generated by San Francisco and San Diego, Los Angeles is desperately in need of a new arena that could supply both, they say.

A public hearing on a plan to build a billion-dollar football stadium near the L.A. Convention Center was held Wednesday night, with a mostly favorable reaction.

But not everyone is sold on the idea.

"The city is facing $1.2 billion in deferred sidewalk repairs," Cary Brazeman, an opponent of the stadium, said. "With this kind of damage to our neighborhoods that needs to be fixed, now is no time to be giving away money to stadium developers."

But Tim Leiweke of developer AEG says that's a misleading argument, despite the city's involvement in bond financing.

"There is zero risk to the taxpayers," Leiweke said. He says his company would make up for any lost tax revenue during construction.

L.A. City Council Member Jan Perry, who called for public hearings Wednesday and Thursday night, sees the debate in a different light.

Perry says it's not just about football or development. It's about hotel and convention bookings.

"More conventions, larger conventions, more bookings for the City of Los Angeles," is what it's all about, according to Perry.

The need for more convention business is not disputed by many observers.

Last year San Francisco had 800,000 hotel rooms sold to convention-goers and San Diego had 600,000, while L.A. had a scant 270,000. One study said the city could double its convention business if the stadium, which could double as convention space, is built.

With so many perspectives on the project, city officials were expecting a wide variety of comments at the public hearings. For some people, it may be as simple as the desire to bring pro football back to L.A.

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