Los Angeles Business Journal

Don’t Punt Hard Questions on NFL Stadium

OP-ED: City officials have failed to tackle tough development, tourism issues surrounding the L.A. Live project. By KEVIN JAMES Monday, December 19, 2011

We now know that the promise of jobs was inflated and without a roof on the stadium, the impact on the Convention Center won’t be as significant as the City Council stated.

As for those 30 conventions each year or the equivalent of 80 new event days (FarmersField.com), did anyone ask what convention in the world is going to come to Los Angeles without a roof on the stadium?

Farmers Field has already begun to damage convention business. The Society of Critical Care Medicine – a large annual convention – canceled its convention planned for 2014 because of construction issues. This negatively affected our local hotels and restaurants, but it didn’t seem to dissuade our City Council.

Since then, our city government has been silent. The agreement with AEG and the city reportedly states that the developers must pay for the loss of convention business – but that remains to be seen.

How many other conventions will cancel? After all, construction, noise and transportation issues won’t make for a memorable trade show.

How many conventions will this plan give us? How much money will local businesses lose during construction?

Don’t our city officials want these answers? They are unanimously behind AEG’s proposal.

It appears that under this project, Los Angeles will not get a bigger Convention Center and will not jump to the top five in convention cities. We will however get a bigger deficit, something our city cannot afford.

Has anyone looked at the top five convention cities/centers in America? Las Vegas has 10.5 million square feet of convention space. Chicago’s McCormick Place has 2.6 million. Orlando has 2.1 million. Washington, D.C., ranks fourth and Georgia’s World Congress Center ranks fifth. And while Georgia has a football field, it also has more than 3 million square feet of exhibition space.

How does this plan make Los Angeles more competitive? Have any conventions expressed interest in using Farmers Field?

How does the Los Angeles Auto Show take place in November at the peak of football season? Especially if we have two teams? Will our team(s) have to play road games throughout the month of November?

A closer look at the project is warranted and will certainly reveal the flaws in our city government and in the plan’s prospectus.

The biggest question that remains is whether or not our city officials – many of whom are running for higher office – are willing to ask these tough questions.

As a citizen of Los Angeles and a candidate for mayor, I recognize that AEG has had a positive impact on the community and I would like to see the NFL return. But not until we understand all of the details and not until we have all of the answers.

Kevin James is an attorney, radio broadcaster, former assistant U.S. attorney and currently a candidate for mayor of Los Angeles.

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