|This article is outdated. (May 2014)|
|Former names||Los Angeles Events Center (final planning stages)|
|Location||South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, California
|Owner||Anschutz Entertainment Group|
|Capacity||72,000 (estimated) (expandable to 76,000 for special events, e.g. Super Bowl)|
|Construction cost||US$1.2 billion (estimated)|
Farmers Field is a sports and events stadium that is planned to be built in Downtown Los Angeles. The project, spearheaded by outgoing Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) president Tim Leiweke and former Los Angeles Avengers owner Casey Wasserman, would be located at the current site of the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, adjacent to Staples Center. The project marks AEG's second attempt at building a stadium there following a similar proposal in 2002. The Los Angeles City Council approved the project in a 12-0 vote in 2012, potentially leading to the region fielding an NFL team for the first time since the Rams and Raiders left the Los Angeles area. Farmers Insurance owns the naming rights to the future stadium.
The Los Angeles metropolitan area—the second largest in the United States—has no National Football League team, although it has hosted three in the past and has two teams in each of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada.
ICON Venue Group, a firm in the sports and entertainment industry, was hired by AEG to represent them in the entitlement process with the city of Los Angeles in February 2011. ICON had originally partnered with AEG in 2002 for AEG's first stadium proposal attempt. That project was to be located on the same site of AEG's current proposal. The proposed plan is that the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center would be torn down and rebuilt further south at a cost of US$350 million. Following the completion of the rebuilt West Hall, construction of a 72,000-seat retractable roof stadium would begin over the 15 acre site. AEG expects to begin construction of the stadium by March 2013 and be completed by late 2016. Though the stadium itself would be financed by AEG, the company proposes that the cost of the rebuilt West Hall of the convention center be funded by city issued bonds, which would be repaid by taxes assessed on events in the proposed stadium as well as rent paid by AEG for using the land the stadium would be on. The proposed stadium is suggested as a possible venue for future Super Bowls and NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championships. In December 2010, Magic Johnson announced his partnership with AEG's proposal after selling his minority stake in the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team and multiple Starbucks coffeehouse locations.
The project announced in mid-2010 was initially projected at a cost of $750 million. The feasibility of constructing a 72,000-seat (expandable to 76,000 seats for special events such as the Super Bowl) retractable roof stadium at the announced cost came into question when compared to the two newest facilities of the NFL, Cowboys Stadium and MetLife Stadium which were built at a cost of US$1.3 and US$1.6 billion respectively. Shortly thereafter, Leiweke set a formal timeline for the proposed project. The project's estimated total cost is US$1.2 billion.
On February 1, 2011, it was announced that Farmers Insurance Group had signed a 30-year, $700 million naming rights deal for the stadium, with the stadium to be called Farmers Field. The deal is potentially worth $1 billion if two NFL teams relocate to Farmers Field.
In a February 2011 story published by InsuranceQuotes.com, Farmers emphasized that its naming rights agreement would be spread out over 30 years and that it could walk away from the deal if the Los Angeles stadium isn't completed. “While we have every confidence that this project will get done, if it does not materialize, Farmers Insurance will pay no money for the project,” said Mark Toohey, senior vice president at Farmers.
In an open blog to the public on February 15, 2011 in relation to the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations with the NFL Player's Association, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressed a desire to return the NFL to Los Angeles. He named Los Angeles first in listing cities that needed new NFL stadiums. He wrote, “The status quo means failing to recognize the many costs of financing, building, maintaining and operating stadiums. We need new stadiums in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego.”
On March 25, 2011, Gensler was selected by AEG to design the proposed football stadium. Five teams; the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders were speculated as candidates for relocation. The Vikings were the front-runners until they were taken out of consideration after the Minnesota State Senate approved a financing package that would allow the team to build a new stadium in the state of Minnesota by 2016.
The Los Angeles City Council approved the project in a 12-0 vote on September 28, 2012. The building of the stadium is contingent on reaching a deal with the NFL and a team agreeing to move to Los Angeles. Teams were allowed to begin applying to make that move beginning January 1, 2013.
With the departure of Leiweke from AEG, it became less likely that AEG will participate in the construction of Farmers Field. By May 2014, the prospects for a downtown stadium had diminished to such a degree that a committee of the Los Angeles City Council voted to move forward with alternative plans to expand the Convention Center without the stadium.
Legal challenge and settlement
In 2009, AEG pushed for a state law that limited potential legal challenges against the stadium to a 175 day period. A coalition of anti-poverty groups, including Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), opposed the construction of the stadium in its proposed location, due to the negative effect it was perceived to have on health, traffic, noise, and affordable housing.
In a settlement announced November 1, 2012, the coalition, called Play Fair at Farmers Field, secured "$50 million in concessions... including $10.3 million for a new platform at a Metro Blue Line station and $8 million in upgrades to a plaza outside the Convention Center."
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