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Mitigation or Extortion? Getting the Most out of a Deal for LA's New Football Stadium

As the L.A. City Council prepares to consider final approval for a proposed downtown football stadium and renovated convention center, Jim Newton ponders to what extent community groups will be able to leverage the fast-tracked approvals process.
September 12, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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With all signs from elected officials in Los Angeles, and in Sacramento, indicating that a proposal by developers AEG to build a football stadium in downtown L.A. (with or without a team to call it home) will be approved by the City Council later this month, Newton argues that now is the time to get whatever concessions are possible from the developer.

While most public officials, and even some environmental groups, have gotten behind the project, Newton notes that there remains "a coalition of community groups pushing for further environmental and other concessions, a fight they say they will pursue with the city's elected leadership and, if that fails, in court." 

Contesting the basic assumptions about the economic benefits of the project, but recognizing it is likely to be approved, the groups are requesting more money for parks and recreation, subsidizing of all public safety costs, and "AEG to contribute $20 million to a housing trust fund that would create low-cost units close to the stadium. (It's worth noting that the stadium would not destroy a single housing unit, so that's a fairly brazen demand.)"

While AEG has already agreed to "dozens" of community benefits, Newton calls on city leaders to not leave "any dollars on the table," and "drive a hard bargain that brings maximum benefit to the city and still allows this project to proceed."

But with approval a foregone conclusion, no public subsidies required for financing, and an ultra-cozy relationship between AEG and city leaders, what incentive do the developers have to give in to additional community demands?

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Published on Monday, September 10, 2012 in Los Angeles Times
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