Statement from Timothy J. Leiweke, president & CEO, AEG
Following months of intensive negotiations with representatives from the City of Los Angeles, we are pleased to have finalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City that will enable the Farmers Field and the Los Angeles Convention Center modernization project to move forward to the next stage. We are confident that following their review of the MOU, the Mayor, City Council and other officials will endorse this framework for a project that will boost the City’s convention, hospitality and tourism sector, stimulate economic activity in the region and generate sorely needed jobs.
The general principles of the proposed transaction remain consistent with the original vision we laid out earlier this year, namely that Farmers Field will be entirely privately funded and the construction of a new state-of-the-industry convention hall, slated to replace the existing West Hall, will be accomplished without cost to the taxpayers. However, thanks to the commendable efforts of the City’s negotiating team, we have fashioned an understanding that reflects a number of key changes that serve to further ensure that the interests of the citizens of Los Angeles are well protected and well served. Among other things, not only do the proposed terms contained within the MOU provide for full repayment of the City bonds by new revenue sources, they expressly contemplate that the majority of new tax revenues generated by Farmers Field will accrue to the general fund, providing a much needed source of new revenue for our City in the coming years.
We extend our gratitude to all of the participants in this process on the City side, including representatives from the offices of the Chief Legislative Analyst, the Chief Administrative Officer, the Convention Center and the City Attorney, all of whom exhibited the utmost professionalism and diligence throughout the negotiations and demonstrated themselves to be excellent stewards of the City’s interests. Assisted by a team of experienced outside advisors, the City’s negotiating team not only pushed hard to address important issues to their satisfaction, but they worked tirelessly and cooperatively to identify an optimal financing structure for the portion of this project that entails public involvement.
There remains much work to be done – including completion of a thorough and complex EIR, processing of project entitlements and negotiation of definitive agreements – but approval of this MOU will represent a critical milestone in our efforts to break ground on this project within the next year. We look forward to continuing to work with the City to take this project to the next step at the same time that we also increase our focus on other key objectives, including progressing design of the project and securing the commitments necessary to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles.