The deal

It's all over but the shouting. That and creatively veiling the costs to be shouldered by Los Angeles taxpayers when the deal points for AEG's downtown stadium are formalized.

A stadium is all but a sure thing. And all it took to put the one active city council doubter - Bill Rosendahl - among the believers was a promise from AEG's Tim Leiweke that the city's bond debt for demolishing and replacing part of the existing convention center to make room for the stadium will be closer to $300 million than $350 million. That concession - meaningful but not major - was enough to give city council members a fig leaf to cover all the unmentionables to come.

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Remember that it was Rosendahl, a member of the city council's ad hoc advisory committee on the stadium, who quizzed city staff members in May about the financial assumptions underlying the stadium deal, The staff's answer to nearly all of his questions was "We'll let you know when the deal is done."

And when the city's Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller was asked if the deal points Leiweke presented to community members on June 28 were final, Miller said that the facts and figures AEG offered may not be part of any deal.

The implications of being deliberately left in the dark did not dampen Rosendahl's new enthusiasm. "We all want a football team," he told Mark Lacter of LA Observed. "We all want a stadium. I mean, it's a no-brainer."

Brainless properly describes how this deal is going down. As Lacter pointed out, the city hasn't yet made "a line-by-line analysis of the ancillary costs connected with this project - everything from infrastructure needs to the time being spent by city staffers" or where the money will come from to pay these costs. It's likely that those costs will never be revealed . . . or even known.

With the outline of a stadium deal all but done, Angeleños aren't getting the skeptical analysis the deal deserves.

▪ The city council's ad hoc committee is chaired by Councilwoman Jan Perry, who has already announced her plans to run for mayor. Her political ambitions will benefit from a stadium deal.

▪ The ad hoc committee has not yet dealt substantively with the city's negotiating strategy - the committee's stated mission. Meanwhile, the clock ticks down to AEG's July 31 deadline by which the city council must approved a "memorandum of understanding" that accepts AEG's financing plan, if only in concept.

▪ The city council has yet to hold a single meeting to consider a negotiating strategy. Instead, the terms of the deal will likely be hashed out among the mayor's staff, Perry's staff, and AEG's Leiweke. (It is the city council's malignant practice to let the council member in whose district a project will be built oversee the fine points of the deal in order to extract political benefits from the developer. AEG's stadium deal is just a particularly big version of this city hall tradition.)

Given how city hall works, the stadium deal will be voted on in haste, and no one - including council members - will have answers to questions Angeleños have been asking.

D. J. Waldie, author, historian, and as the New York Times said in 2007, "a gorgeous distiller of architectural and social history," writes about Los Angeles every Monday and Friday at 2 p.m. on KCET's SoCal Focus blog.

The image on this page is from the Library of Congress photograph collection.

About the Author

D. J. Waldie is the author of "Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir" and "Where We Are Now: Notes from Los Angeles." He is a contributing editor for the Los Angeles Times.
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