AEG submits stadium impact report

LOS ANGELES -- In another step that could potentially pave the way for the NFL to return to Los Angeles as early as next year, Anschutz Entertainment Group delivered its long-awaited environmental impact report to City Hall on Thursday for its $1.4 billion proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles.

AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke presented the 10,000-page report, which took 18 months to complete at a cost of $27 million, along with members of local construction and trade unions and called it a significant step in bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1994.

"We are here today to continue the push to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles," Leiweke said. "We are aware this is not the end of the process but in terms of football, we are now in the offensive zone, not the defensive zone."

The EIR will be subject to public comment for 45 days after it is released and if city officials approve the EIR and the project, there will then be a 30-day window for legal challenges, which will be resolved within 175 days.

If everything goes according to plan, Farmers Field would be in position to begin construction by March 2013, similar to a competing stadium proposed by real estate magnate Ed Roski in the City of Industry, which has been ready to push dirt since 2009. Both stadiums, however, need a long-term commitment from a team before construction can begin. And whenever construction does begin, Leiweke said it will be about four years until the stadium is finished.

"No one is going to push dirt until they know they have a team," Leiweke said. "If we have a full environmental impact report approved by the end of this year, we're in the same place the City of Industry is. The difference is we have a set of design drawings we've taken a risk on so we'd be a little further ahead there.

"In the best-case scenario, no matter which site you look at, if you move a team next March and you go to design drawings and pushing dirt, figure that it's probably about a four-year process to build the stadium. So I think the earliest any of us could be in a new stadium is 2017. Maybe there is a way financially to get that going a little quicker but I doubt it."

If construction begins in March 2013, the earliest the stadium would be open is September 2017. In the meantime, the NFL team that relocates to Los Angeles would play in either the L.A. Coliseum or the Rose Bowl.

The plan is to first tear down the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention and build a $275 million replacement hall over Pico Boulevard that would connect to Farmers Field. Construction would then begin on the 68,000-seat football stadium that would be expandable to 78,000 seats for big events like the Super Bowl and Final Four and also be in position to bid on international events like the World Cup and Olympics.

"There should be no more reason, no more excuse and no more delay on why we can't bring football back to Los Angeles," Leiweke said. "For once and for all after going through 17 years and losing two teams in one year, we now have a will and a way and the economic wherewithal to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles early next year."