As a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, home of the national football powerhouse Oklahoma Sooners, I am a HUGE football fan. Attending high school in a suburb of Dallas, Texas instilled in me a deep love of professional football. I grew up loving the Dallas Cowboys. In other words, I want the NFL to return to Southern California! However, no matter how much I love football, I refuse to put the risks associated with Farmers Field on the backs of LA's taxpayers, particularly at a time when the City's Chief Administrative Officer says the City is on the brink of bankruptcy. Therefore, Farmers Field should not be built with the use of any public money. Besides, last time I checked the NFL has still not provided a team.
Even if Farmers Field was being built without public money (although AEG's environmental impact report proves that significant public funds would be used), I am still against AEG's current proposal for Farmers Field in downtown Los Angeles. One of my primary concerns as Mayor is the permanent limitation on the available square footage of the Los Angeles Convention Center. If Farmers Field is built according to current plans, the West Hall of the Convention Center would be destroyed to make room for the stadium. While AEG claims it will refurbish what remains of the Convention Center, the Convention Center will forever be limited to roughly 750,000 square feet. That means LA will never achieve "top tier" status as a leading convention city because we will not have met the milestone of 1 million square feet needed for a convention center to be considered top tier.
For this reason, I recently published in the Huffington Post my proposed alternative plan for the Convention Center, complete with visuals. My plan not only gives the Convention Center 1 million square feet (with the ability to expand to 1.2 million square feet), it connects the Convention Center to the convention hotel, the J.W. Marriott. If Farmers Field is built as planned, convention goers would have to walk around a football stadium in the middle of downtown Los Angeles to get from their convention hotel to the Convention Center. With my Convention Center plan, Los Angeles does not have to wait for the NFL before we can create these construction jobs downtown. Additionally, an improved Convention Center will result in potentially thousands of permanent jobs in the area, plus additional tourism.
Here is a link to my Convention Center plan - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-james/la-convention-center_b_1386295.html
Another concern I have is that the mere speculation surrounding the possibility of the upcoming construction of Farmers Field is killing our Convention Center business. I recently served a public records request on the Convention Center to determine how many conventions, trade shows, consumer shows and assemblies have been booked at the LA Convention Center since Farmers Field was announced in 2010. The bookings of the LA Convention Center for 2014, 2015 and 2016 are shockingly scarce, while other cities' bookings are extensive.
Over the past several months I have asked numerous questions relating to Farmers Field that local reporters have either ignored or have not thought about. Here are links to two separate articles I have published asking these important questions.
After many months of research, asking questions, reviewing the respective environmental impact reports, and considering the competing proposals in the LA area for an NFL stadium, it is absolutely clear that the best deal for Los Angeles is Majestic Realty's Los Angeles Football Stadium at Grand Crossing in the City of Industry. Tourists visiting the NFL stadium in the City of Industry will undoubtedly spend the night in our hotels in downtown Los Angeles, will eat at LA restaurants, will visit Venice Beach, and will visit the attractions in Hollywood. In other words, Los Angeles gets the economic benefit of a professional football stadium without any of the risk.
Finally, the plans for Farmers Field, as well as AEG's environmental impact report for Farmers Field, indicate that AEG made no serious plans for a major part of football culture in America -- tailgating. Indeed, the proposed site for Farmers Field in downtown Los Angeles is far from ideal for tailgating. No one wants to tailgate in a parking garage. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Football Stadium at Grand Crossing is a tailgater's dream.
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