The Los Angeles City Council approved plans for a downtown football stadium in a unanimous 12-0 vote, Tuesday. The council voted in favor of a non-binding agreement with developer Anschutz Entertainment Group to build the stadium, as well as a new city convention hall and two parking structures on municipal land.
The move comes following a tentative agreement that was reached at the end of July between the city of Los Angeles and AEG.
The project includes the demolition and replacement of the 40-year-old West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, and AEG officials hope to have the 72,000-seat stadium adjacent to L.A. Live and Staples Center completed in time for the 2016 football season.
"This is a significant project for the future of our city and it will bring football back to Los Angeles,'' said Councilwoman Jan Perry, who chairs a council committee charged with vetting the stadium proposal.
Councilman Bill Rosendahl said, “I truly believe it’s in AEG’s best interests and our best interests [to move forward with this project], and when we have two willing partners who both see value in something, you can negotiate a good deal.”
Rosendahl helped organize a at the Mar Vista Recreation Center for neighborhood council representatives in West Los Angeles to meet with AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke.
Tuesday’s vote clears the way for AEG to begin arranging financing to pay for the stadium and to conclude an ongoing environmental impact report, which the developer hopes to have approved by May 2012. It also allows AEG to advance negotiations with the NFL to bring a team to Los Angeles. An announcement is unlikely until after the Super Bowl in early 2012.
"I feel like we've been handed a vote of confidence,'' Leiweke said following the council vote. "Today was the best step we've taken to date to bring the NFL back to L.A., and I think it sends a very strong message to the NFL owners. "In 16 years we've never made it this far down the field.''
The approval marks a shift from a conversation about how the project will be funded to a debate over the finer points of the proposal, which could mean more or less cost to taxpayers.
It also means the hunt is now on to find an NFL team. During the June 27 town hall meeting at the Mar Vista Rec Center, Leiweke said he knew of at least two teams that are willing to move to Los Angeles. And at Tuesday’s meeting, Rosendahl said to huge applause, “I want a team, and maybe a second team to come to this town. Why not? We’re a great city. And we deserve it.”
City News Service contributed to this report.