If you build it, will they come? L.A. stadium plans unveiled

LOS ANGELES -- Billionaire developer Edward P. Roski Jr. has made a commitment to build the kind of stadium an NFL team needs to thrive in Los Angeles. Now, he's hoping one will commit to play there.

Roski, a part-owner of the Kings and Lakers who has spent years trying to lure the NFL back to this area, unveiled plans Thursday for a 75,000-seat facility in the City of Industry he said could be finished in time for the 2011 season.

"I intend to develop our stadium project that meets all of the NFL requirements, and more," Roski said at a Staples Center news conference, where stadium models and artist renditions were displayed. "Always the most important thing has been the certainty of doing this. A team is not going to commit to coming to Los Angeles without a stadium. We've taken this one point of uncertainty and made it a certainty. The stadium is a certainty and it will be built."

And, Roski added, without public money.

"Absolutely no taxpayer dollars," he said. "There's no taxpayer dollars to get."

The proposed 600-acre site, near the southern intersection of the 57 and 60 freeways about 20 miles east of Los Angeles, would be surrounded by a shopping mall and located on a vacant property that Roski already owns. Roski said around 12 million people live within 25 miles of the site.

"We are aware of it and are monitoring all stadium-related developments in Southern California," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said from his New York office.

Roski said the cost would be around $800 million, adding the stadium will be built into a hillside meaning far less steel will be required. And that, he said will result in a cost of about $400 million less than it might be otherwise.

Roski said the site is already zoned and an environmental impact report was approved in 2004.

"A supplemental EIR is currently in progress," he added, saying construction could begin as early as the final quarter of this year and parking requirements would be met. "We'll make it happen, just as we did here at Staples Center with the Lakers and Kings."

Roski and Philip Anschutz, the head of AEG, headed up construction of Staples Center. The Lakers, Kings and Arena Football League's Avengers play their home games at the facility, which opened in October 1999. AEG is not involved in this venture.

The one obvious obstacle standing in the way is a tenant for the new stadium. Possibilities might include the New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers because of their stadium uncertainties.

Roski made it clear construction will not begin until a team agreed to move, adding he did not expect an expansion team to be involved.

The NFL has said it has no plans to expand from its present 32 teams, and it's also clear Los Angeles is not a high priority with the league at this time. But that might not stop a team with stadium uncertainties to make the move.

"No team is going to say they're going to come here until we have this," Roski said of the stadium plan. "We have not talked to any teams. Now, we will start the second phase of it. We'll start talking to the NFL and the teams. We've got this out of the way. Now, we'll concentrate on getting a team."

With a smile, the 69-year-old chairman and CEO of Majestic Realty Co. added: "If I was sitting there, I would be waiting for my call. This is the top market. The team that decides to come to Los Angeles is financially going to be one of the top teams in the league, by far."

Los Angeles, the second-largest media market in the country, has been without an NFL team since 1995, when the Raiders moved back to Oakland after playing 13 years at the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Rams moved from Anaheim to St. Louis.

Proposals have been made for numerous stadium sites in the area over the years including the Coliseum and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena as well as in Irwindale, Inglewood, Carson and Anaheim.

But, as Roski pointed out, there were always uncertainties.

Should a team decide to make the move, he said it could play the 2009-10 seasons at either the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl while the new stadium was under construction.