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AEG wants to upgrade Convention Center, with or without stadium deal

By Jose Martinez
Published: Thursday, April 05, 2012, at 08:04AM
convention center Manohar Dasari/Flickr Creative Commons

AEG has said even if its proposed stadium deal falls through, it still wants to upgrade Los Angeles' Convention Center (pictured above). (Credit: Manohar Dasari/Flickr Creative Commons)

Anschultz Entertainment Group (AEG) is ready for some football – but they're coming up with a backup plan in case the NFL decide it's not.

AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that AEG is thinking of how it could revamp the Convention Center anyway, even if a professional football venue isn't built.

Previously the firm had been pushing to build a 76,000-seat stadium in downtown L.A. With the taxes from that project, it had planned to finance an upgrade to the Convention Center.

While the public eye has mostly been focused on AEG's effort to get a stadium downtown (with the financial dollars of billionaire Philip Anschultz as fuel), now there are questions about what would happen to the Convention Center if AEG's NFL plan falls through.

Leiweke has also told the Times that Anschultz is ready to write a check immediately if AEG can reach a deal with the NFL that's a "win-win." While Anschultz has previously said he'd be interested in buying part of a team, Leiweke has most recently indicated that the billionaire is ready to buy an entire team if he has to.

On Thursday AEG will release an environmental impact report on the proposed stadium, a final version of which will be published at the end of the summer. There will be a subsequent 172-day period for legal challenges, after which the proposal would be on equal footing with another stadium proposal that would be located in the City of Industry.

Leiweke also told reporters on Monday that AEG had plans to redevelop GIlbert Lindsay Plaza, which is located outside of the Convention Center. The redevelopment would turn it into a gathering place for tailgating, which would include food booths run by local restaurants like Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.

But even if the NFL falls through, said Leiweke, AEG will pursue a Convention Center upgrade. With the stadium on the table, that upgrade would be paid for by bond money backed by the city's general fund. Later, those bonds would be repaid by money made by the stadium.

Leiweke didn't address how the upgrades would be financed without a successful stadium project.

Photo by Manohar Dasari via Flickr Creative Commons.

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