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NFL Could Return to Los Angeles by 2012, Stadium Planner Says

A National Football League team could be playing in the Los Angeles area by the 2012 season and a second club may join it there, a stadium planner said.

Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the U.S. with a population of 3.9 million, hasn’t had an NFL team since 1995, when the Raiders moved back to Oakland and the Rams left for St. Louis.

John Semcken, vice president of Majestic Realty Co., which has proposed a 75,000-seat stadium in eastern Los Angeles County about 24 miles from Hollywood, said a team that relocates to the area could play in a renovated Rose Bowl in 2012-13 until the new stadium is ready.

“I am hopeful we will have an agreement with a team to come here for the 2012 season,” Semcken said in an interview yesterday at the Pacific Palms Resort in City of Industry, the industrial community where the stadium is planned.

The $800 million Los Angeles Stadium plan is one of two aimed at attracting an NFL team to the city. The competing proposal, by Anschutz Entertainment Group, is for a $1 billion downtown stadium.

The NFL had no comment on Semcken’s statements. League spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an e-mail last night that the NFL will “continue to monitor all stadium developments in the Los Angeles area.”

NFL officials have said in recent months that any consideration of a stadium in Los Angeles, or of a team moving there, would have to wait until after the league signs a new collective bargaining agreement with its players’ union. The current accord expires in three days.

Teams Have Visited

Representatives from several NFL teams have come to the Pacific Palms conference room, which is lined with models, architectural plans and sketches of the proposed stadium, to discuss possible relocation, Semcken said. He wouldn’t say which teams had visited.

Ed Roski, Majestic’s chairman and chief executive officer, is willing to buy a team and bring it to Industry or to become a minority owner, Semcken said. Roski would like to own at least 20 percent to 30 percent of a team playing in the stadium, Semcken said, though he would accept a smaller percentage.

One of the NFL’s 32 owners could be drawn to the area by the 9.9 million people living in Los Angeles County or the temperate southern California weather.

“It all boils down to how much better off is an owner going to be if he relocates to this market,” David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California, said yesterday in an interview.

Private Money Only

AEG and Majestic say their stadiums would be built with private money. Los Angeles officials have said there would be little, or no, public money available for construction.

The Industry stadium would have 176 luxury suites costing about $289,000 each and 12,500 club seats costing more than $4,600 each. The remaining seats would cost from $70 to $150 each per game, Semcken said. All the suites and club seats would be on one side of the stadium, he said.

It would be built to accommodate two NFL teams. Plans call for three locker rooms, one each for the resident teams and another for visitors.

“There’s a very good likelihood that there will be two teams playing in the stadium,” Semcken said. “The NFL has asked us to design it for two teams.”

The stadium would be part of a project that would include 1.1 million square feet of retail space and 1.4 million square feet of commercial development, he said.

Grand Crossing, California

Since City of Industry might not be the most appealing name, Majestic would change the name of the stadium location to Grand Crossing, Semcken said.

AEG held a news conference Feb. 1 to announce a 30-year naming deal with Farmers Insurance Group for its proposed downtown stadium, which would have a retractable roof. The Los Angeles Times, citing unidentified people familiar with the negotiations, said a deal may be worth $700 million.

Semcken said yesterday he was confident Majestic’s stadium would draw $1 billion in naming rights. Even though Majestic “can break ground tomorrow” and finish the stadium in 30 months, it will wait until it has a firm commitment from an NFL team, he said.

“If you break ground now, you don’t have any leverage on the purchase of a team,” he said. “No one has promised us a team. No lender is going to give us the money, no fan is going to purchase a seat license, no sponsor is going to pay for naming rights until you have a team.”

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