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ESPN Radio and Fox Sports were broadcasting and cheerleaders were cheering. There were big-name football players and a blimp overhead with a camera fixed on the action below.
All that was missing from the gigantic pep rally in Los Angeles was an NFL team and a stadium where they could play, shortcomings that organizers of Tuesday’s event intend on rectifying in time for the city to host Super Bowl L in five years.
“Ladies and gentleman, we hosted the first one, we should host the 50th one,” said Tim Leiweke, the CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which has teamed with entertainment and sports executive Casey Wasserman to convince the powers that be that they should be allowed to build a 1.7 million square-foot football stadium in downtown L.A.
As of Tuesday, the unbuilt structure even has a name — Farmers Field — courtesy of a deal with Farmers Insurance worth up to $700 million over the next 30 years. That’s quite a coup for AEG and Wasserman given the dubious value of naming-rights deals nowadays.
If approved, the stadium would sit where a portion of the Los Angeles Convention Center now resides. While one half of the convention center would disappear to make way for the stadium, the other half would expand or be rebuilt larger, thus making it a more marketable venue, according to management.
AEG, which built L.A. Live and Staples Center in that same area, intends on spending $1 billion to make the stadium happen, but only if it can convince an NFL team to move here. L.A. has been without one since 1995 after the Rams and Raiders left for greener pastures. Wasserman and Leiweke didn’t say which teams they are wooing, but they made it clear that without a commitment from a team, the stadium deal will collapse.
It’s widely believed that potential teams that might choose L.A. as their new home because of expiring leases include the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and even the Rams and Raiders.
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