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Council's Stadium Committee Focuses on Consultant and Architect in Its Second Meeting

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, June 30, 2011, at 12:49PM
Farmers Field Gensler

Rendering of Farmers Field, AEG's proposed 72,000 seat NFL stadium and events center next to Staples Center and L.A. Live.

There were no revelations or major proclamations as Farmers Field, AEG's proposed NFL stadium and events center, continued its steady march to approval inside City Hall on Thursday.

AEG CEO Tim Leiweke made headlines earlier in the week for his comments to a town hall meeting organized by Councilman Bill Rosendahl, but neither Leiweke nor anyone else from AEG spoke during the second session of the council's Ad-Hoc Committee on the Proposed Downtown Stadium and Events Center.

Rosendahl, who has been portrayed as an opponent of the stadium due to his vocal questions about the proposed deal, emphasized up-front that he wasn't opposed to AEG's goals.

"We all want a football team. We all want a stadium. It's a no-brainer," he said. "We just want to make sure that the public treasury is in no way played with."

Thursday's meeting focused on two outside hires: Conventions, Sports & Leisure International (CSL) as the firm analyzing the deal for the city, and Populous, the architecture firm hired by AEG to begin work on planning a replacement hall for the Convention Center.

CSL touted its experience working on an impressive list of NFL stadium projects, including Cowboys Stadium in Dallas and the New Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey. While funding for the deal comes from AEG, the firm's contract is with the city, for whom it is a party in the negotiations and to whom it will be reporting on the pluses and minuses of the deal afterward.

AEG announced Populous as the architect of record for the Convention Center project on Wednesday. The company, which also did the planning for Majestic Realty's competing Los Angeles Football Stadium in the City of Industry, is charged with designing a replacement for the 1971 West Hall, which would be torn down to make room for the stadium.

Rosendahl questioned why it was AEG selecting and hiring an architect, not the city.

City Engineer Gary Moore told the committee that legally, the city could not commit to an architect until the project's deal and environmental documents were complete, but he and Convention Center head Pouria Abassi both said they were in full agreement with the choice of Populous to design the new hall.

Leiweke has maintained that the framework of a deal needs to be in place by July 31 to keep the stadium project on-track.

While Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller cautioned the five-member committee that there were "two or three" issues still outstanding that present "significant financial impacts," all signs on Thursday were that the CEO's deadline would be met. CSL plans to bring its first report back to the city in mid-July, and Moore reported that Populous would be bringing its first designs and financial plans for the new convention hall in that same timeframe.

No timetable was set for a next meeting of the committee, which expressed its interest in holding a session in the San Fernando Valley.

And because what would a council meeting about an NFL stadium be without them, the morning did feature one set of groan-inducing sports references. After Rosendahl attempted to make some comments out of agenda order, Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and Jan Perry chimed in with a pair of cross-sport gems.

"Illegal procedure by Mr. Rosendahl," said LaBonge.

"Put him in the penalty box," followed Perry.

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