Last month before the NFL season began, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry and political aide Bernard Parks, Jr. at the NFL offices in New York to discuss plans for a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles.
In that meeting, according to Yahoo! Sports, Goodell told Perry and Park that “neither the league nor any team interested in moving there would agree to the business proposal set forth by Anschutz Entertainment Group.”
The story took Perry and Parks by surprise when they heard about it on Friday at City Hall.
“The comments in the story are not something we discussed in the meeting,” Perry said. “We met, we got acquainted, I talked to him about the memorandum of understanding that the city council had voted on and that we were eager to commence this project. I don’t know where that quote came from. That was not something the commissioner discussed. It was just a getting to know you meeting. I don’t know where the other stuff came from. There were a total of four people in the room when I met with the commioner and that was not the nature of our discussion. The tone was positive. We left the meeting optimistic.”
Parks, who is the son of councilmember Bernard C. Parks, felt the meeting was a positive first step in rebuilding the relationship between the league and the city and viewed it as the first of several meetings.
“The report bares very little resemblance to the meeting councilmember Perry and I attended,” Parks said. “It was a getting acquainted meeting and where things stood with the AEG project. We got a good share of positives about the project from the commissioner and we left there feeling good about the meeting. We left laughing as we walked out the door and we understand this is a process.
“I don’t think they would meet with us just days before the kickoff of the season if they didn’t take this project seriously. But again, this is a process; it’s not going to be done tomorrow unfortunately. We expect that meeting to be the first of many meetings with the league. There are a lot parts to this and it won’t be done overnight. It might take 10, 15 or 20 meetings. There was nothing shocking or disappointing about the meeting. This is a negotiation. When you bought your car, did you take the first price they gave you?”
The league wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the commissioner’s meeting but a spokesman said the league is still monitoring the downtown Los Angeles site.
“The proposed AEG stadium is interesting, but it has not been approved yet for construction and it has not attracted an NFL team to this point,” said Greg Aiello, senior vice president of communications for the NFL. “It is a project in the process of being developed and we will continue to follow its progress.”
The meeting took place on Sept. 6, about a month after the Los Angeles city council unanimously passed the financial framework of an agreement between AEG and the city to build Farmers Field, a $1.2 billion football stadium and events center in downtown Los Angeles. The "memorandum of understanding," as it’s called, is a non-binding agreement that only needed a simple majority to pass.
There may be flaws in the AEG proposal. The project won’t even be ready for construction until 2012 and probably won’t be ready to attract a team until 2013.
"Right now our priority is getting the EIR completed and filed, getting a definitive agreement signed with the city and work with the NFL on a process to get a team here,” AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke said. “The toughest part is getting a team but we are confident there are teams that are not going to solve their stadium problems and they can solve their problems by coming here. We are going to follow the lead of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, we are engaged with the commissioner and his staff and we will stay engaged with them and be relentless until we bring this home."
The report indicates Majestic Reality Co. president Ed Roski, who wants to build a 75,000-seat football stadium in the City of Industry, doesn’t want to buy a part of the team that moves to Los Angeles. However John Semcken, the vice president of Majestic, recently reiterated the Roski group's intentions to do so.
Majestic's aim is to seek a “meaningful piece of the team and 30 percent is the number we’ve generally used,” Semcken said last week.