Two weeks after former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge raised fears about safety at the new sports stadium planned in Inglewood, plans for the stadium he was hired to help have fallen apart. God doesn’t like ugly.
Anschultz Entertainment Group (AEG), owner of Staples Center and the Los Angeles Kings, announced it will abandon plans to build the proposed Farmers Field in downtown Los Angeles and will not seek an extension for its April 17 deadline to lure an NFL team.
Despite talks with at least four pro football teams, being entitled and shovel-ready for two years, AEG could not close the deal for its proposed Farmer’s Field next to Staples Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center. Now, some five years and more than $50 million later, the City doesn’t have much to show for its money.
AEG had a huge head start in the L.A. area stadium race, but now even Carson, which is just beginning to put plans together for a shared stadium with the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, is more likely to happen.
Ridge has criticized Inglewood’s recently passed City of Champions Revitalization Initiative, saying the city’s close proximity to LAX could trigger a possible terrorist attacks. However, the fact that Ridge helped arrange financing for the Philadelphia Eagles football stadium—which is itself about 12 minutes from Philadelphia International Airport—takes away validity from his terrorist argument.
AEG Vice Chairman Ted Fikre told the Los Angeles Daily News, “We are no longer in discussion with the NFL or any NFL team. Our focus is on the continued development of the L.A. LIVE district, and assisting the city of Los Angeles with development of its Convention Center and the downtown core.”
Meanwhile, Inglewood is moving full speed ahead on its stadium near Hollywood Park. Though no agreements have been made with the NFL, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchased property at the site last year. The Rams have one more season left to play at St. Louis’ Jones stadium, which Kroenke says is not up to par. The stadium project was given a green light two weeks ago when the Inglewood council voted unanimously in favor, during a packed meeting filled with Rams fans.
On March 4, Chargers and Raiders moved forward with their own stadium plans, filing a ballot initiative with the City of Carson. The initiative will require 8,041 signatures from registered voters to build the $1.7 billion stadium. If so, the project could be entitled by late May or early June.
There has been some controversy over the Carson site. The property sits on a former landfill, which has set off red flags over environmental safety.
According to Emad Yemut, a supervising engineer for the state Toxic Substances Control Department, the site still needs a series of extraction wells to remove methane and other gases. It is an expensive operation. Costs could run as much as $300,000 a month, just to operate the gas extraction wells alone.