Los Angeles: the latest stop in the ‘No More Stadiums’ tour


Philip Anschutz’s mega Anschutz Entertainment Group is aiming to build a downtown stadium to lure the NFL back to Los Angeles, and AEG chief Tim Leiweke, above, claims the city is “never going to have to pay a penny.” (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
April 24, 2011

As part of my acclaimed “No More Stadiums, With or Without Tax Subsidies” Tour, let me explain the current situation in my current home of Los Angeles:

The Stadium Fairy apparently is going to drop a $1 billion building on downtown L.A.

To which I would tell the city lords, for the umpteenth time:

We don’t need a new stadium.

We don’t need an NFL team.

We do need more left-turn signals.

But someone in town must’ve just seen “Field of Dreams” for the first time and said, “Hey, if we build it, the NFL will come.”

To which I would tell the city lords, for the umpteenth time:

Nobody around here is going to sleep every night, thinking, “Woe is us without a professional football franchise.” Not as long as it’s 72 degrees with sunny skies, and our cable and satellite systems pick up NFL games every weekend.

Yet billionaire Philip Anschutz’s mega Anschutz Entertainment Group is trying to convince the city to let it build a downtown stadium to lure the NFL back to town — and here’s the too-good-to-be-true catch — at absolutely no cost to taxpayers.

“It will not cost taxpayers a dime,” said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

“The city’s never going to have to pay a penny — and we’re going to guarantee it,” said AEG chief Tim Leiweke.

Wow.

Next thing you know, AEG will foot the bill for my next honeymoon and throw in some “We’re No. 1” foam fingers.

Leiweke — pronounced “LIE-wick-ee,” I believe — is the modern-day Music Man. If he’s selling you band instruments, you’d better make sure you have a band.

No cost to taxpayers?

For starters, AEG wants a special exemption from the state’s environmental quality act. Okay, California is $26 billion in the hole — we don’t even have a budget in place this year — and we’re already spending legislative time and money to roll out the red carpet for a billionaire investor.

Further, for this stadium deal, AEG wants to lease prime downtown property for $1 a year. Uh, wouldn’t that fall under the umbrella of “unrealized municipal revenue”? (Note: I made up that term – it sounds very authoritative.)

Finally, the city would lease land to AEG and float a $350 million bond to tear down part of L.A. Convention Center and rebuild it as part of the new stadium.

I now turn over the column briefly to L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who, according to the Los Angeles Times, recently posed a couple of questions about this $350 million bond:

“How is it possible to contend that no public money will be used while at the same time ask the city to sell bonds?”

“Since taxes on tickets normally would flow into the general fund to help pay for services such as police officers, wouldn’t the use of ticket taxes to pay off the bonds be defined as a public subsidy?”

Of course, these questions generally are minor annoyances to AEG, which already got millions in tax breaks for two hotels at its downtown L.A. Live project.

(I invite out-of-towners to take in L.A. Live on your next trip. It’s another only-in-L.A. signature: Create an artificial urban environment because there is a no real urban environment here. L.A. Live essentially is a sound stage – it’s a fake city inside of a fake city.)

But, subsidies aside, the question remains if America should continue on this course of manifest stadium destiny. AEG just wants to drop this monstrosity on downtown. You know what should be downtown? A downtown – a living, breathing, working space where people live, breathe and work; not some massive structure that sucks the air out of the region most days and nights.

Here’s another question for America: Can’t we start building libraries instead of stadiums? Isn’t that a better investment in our future? Do you know how many library shelves you could line with how many books for a billion dollars? And here’s a 2008 book I’d start with – “Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit,” by Neil deMause and Joanna Cagan. It’s a pretty good read, and I guarantee you it will save the city money.

Ask The Slouch

Q. My husband says that you are an honest man. With all due respect to our nation’s fine air traffic controllers, would you suspend yourself from all writing operations should it be revealed that you have fallen asleep on the couch while on the job? (Sarah F. Strike; Washington, D.C.)

A. Well, to be honest with you, I often turn on golf on TV while on the job so that I can fall asleep on the couch.

Q. How might the history of the Vietnam War changed if the military draft had been analyzed by Mel Kiper Jr.? (Pat McNamee; Vienna, Va.)

A. It’s possible we’d still be in Vietnam.

Q. I see where “The Avengers” movie will be filmed in Cleveland — does that mean the ending will change where Captain America is traded away for prospects? (David Littell; Avon, Ohio)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

SECTION: {section=sports, subsection=redskins}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=3, comments_source=washpost.com, display_comments=true, max_items_to_display=3, moderation_required=false}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=sports, subsection=redskins}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=3, comments_source=washpost.com, display_comments=true, max_items_to_display=3, moderation_required=false}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=2, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments
Most Read Sports