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BBA urges support for Los Angeles football stadium

Earl "Skip" Cooper | 2/23/2011, 5 p.m.

The potential Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) football stadium for downtown Los Angeles would spur major economic development and finance for the local economy, and in particular, for minority and small businesses. I strongly applaud the efforts of AEG, as well as Farmers Insurance Exchange, in their commitment to this historical project. The proposed football stadium will be dubbed Farmers Field under a naming-rights agreement announced by AEG. The 30-year naming-rights deal with Farmers Insurance will help finance the cost of construction of the stadium and help return the National Football League to Los Angeles after an absence of more than 15 years.

The city of Los Angeles is indebted to AEG and Tim Leiweke, AEG President/CEO, for the vision of and investment in downtown Los Angeles. AEG, which built L.A. Live, an entertainment complex that consists of the Staples Center, Nokia Theatre, JW Marriott & the Ritz-Carlton hotels and several other hospitality and entertainment venues, will invest more than $1 billion in the construction of the football stadium.

The financial investment includes demolition work, transportation, construction, masonry and other trades, which minority workers in the region have a proven track record and a talent pool from which to utilize. Once built and in operation, monies will be generated from transportation, food vendors, restaurants, bars, event planners, hotels, etc. AEG has been one of the single most important players in the downtown Los Angeles marketplace over the past 20 years in building for the future growth and development of Los Angeles.

In the past two years, cities such as Arlington, Texas (Dallas Cowboys), Queens, N.Y. (N.Y. Mets) and East Rutherford, N.J. (Giants/Jets) have completed development of major sports arenas. A few weeks ago, against the backdrop of one of the most severe winters in the city's history, the Dallas Cowboy Stadium hosted one of the most successful NFL Super Bowls ever. Just hosting that one event generated jobs and millions of dollars in revenue for the local economy, which would not have been realized if it weren't for the first-class facility in which to hold the event.
Here in Los Angeles, minorities in the construction trade can look forward to opportunities for demolition, masonry, transportation, logistics, and tourism. As for job creation, the BBA estimates 20,000 to 30,000 new jobs will be created in the implementation of this proposed project over the next 10 years. With nearly 13 percent unemployment in the county of Los Angeles, particularly in the construction industry, this stadium project, along with other ancillary construction projects, will be a positive shock to the local economy.

Recently, I shared my views with members of the Los Angeles City Council that building the stadium will not only increase incomes, jobs and tax revenue for the city, but enhance it as a destination for major conventions and tourism from around the world.

Sadly, the Los Angeles Convention Center is not listed among the top 10 convention centers in the country, even though Los Angeles has the second largest population in the nation. Convention centers in such places as San Diego and Nashville are listed ahead of Los Angeles, according to the Meeting Source and Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). The establishment of a football stadium adjacent to the Los Angeles Convention Center will propel Los Angeles forward as a designated convention site for businesses and exhibitors and will create jobs and revenue for the city.
Building this stadium will increase Los Angeles' competitive position as a major convention location in the nation, as well as open additional business opportunities. In addition, it will become possible for L.A. to host more world-class events in the future.

AEG is seeking the issuance of a $350-million bond by the city to pay for the demolition and rebuilding of a new West Hall for the existing Convention Center. The new West Hall would be built on a different section of Convention Center property, and the parking lot would be expanded.

New tax revenues are projected to repay the issuance of these bonds. However, AEG has stated if this is not the case, they will cover the financial shortfall.

The BBA urges the mayor of Los Angeles and the City Council to rally behind AEG, Farmers Insurance and the stadium proposed, which represents an economic stimulus for the benefit of not only downtown Los Angeles, but also the greater Los Angeles region.

Earl "Skip" Cooper II is the president and CEO of the Black Business Association (BBA), which is headquartered in Los Angeles. The BBA has been instrumental in the incubation and development of more than 15,000 African American businesses.