City of Industry group undeterred in effort to build NFL stadium

Majestic Realty Co. / Associated Press
The proposal for an NFL stadium in the City of Industry also includes a state-of-the-art practice facility.

In the last few months we have heard more and more about a potential domed stadium in downtown Los Angeles and very little regarding the original project to build a stadium and bring an NFL team to the City of Industry, just outside of L.A.

Don't mistake relative silence for inactivity, however.

Los Angeles Football Story

Southern California has been the home of many professional football teams, from the L.A. Buccaneers in 1926 (a traveling team that never actually played in Los Angeles) to the XFL champion L.A. Xtreme in 2001. The Avengers are the last active team in L.A., but folded after Arena Football League announced it would not play a 2009 season.

Teams that have called Southern California home
Years Team League
1926 Los Angeles Buccaneers NFL
1940-45 Los Angeles Bulldogs PCPFL
1940-42 Hollywood Bears PCPFL
1943 Los Angeles Mustangs PCPFL
1944-45 Hollywood Wolves PCPFL
1946-1994 Los Angeles Rams NFL
1946-49 Los Angeles Dons AAFC
1960 Los Angeles Chargers AFL
1967 Long Beach Admirals Continental
1967-68 Orange County Ramblers Continental
1974-75 Southern California Sun WFL
1982-1994 Los Angeles Raiders NFL
1983-85 Los Angeles Express USFL
1988 Los Angeles Cobras Arena
1996-97 Anaheim Piranhas Arena
2000-2009 Los Angeles Avengers Arena
2001 Los Angeles Xtreme XFL

The effort to put a team in the City of Industry -- about 25 miles east of L.A. -- remains ongoing, and officials of Majestic Realty Co. contend they remain prepared to have a team in the L.A. area by 2011, and in their new facility by 2013. NFL insiders caution that in the current economic climate, and with so much uncertainty regarding the CBA -- to say nothing of lingering questions regarding both efforts to bring a team to L.A. -- that timetable might prove to be overly ambitious.

Still, as we get ready for the opening of training camps, the idea of football in Los Angeles -- eventually -- seems quite viable. It's more a matter of "when," than it is "if."

The City of Industry group, led by real estate mogul Ed Roski, is much further along from an economic, environmental and procedural standpoint. According to John Semcken, vice president of Roski's company, Majestic Realty, his group remains in regular contact with several NFL owners and lawyers of teams who could possibly move to L.A.

"We've met with some owners and their lawyers and representatives at their place," Semcken said, "and some of them have come to us to see our presentation, and we've met some at a neutral location. The process is certainly moving along, and we've had some significant discussions."

Semcken said that potential construction costs for their project ended up lowered by $143 million during the final stage of the bid process, and said that money would be reinvested into the infrastructure around the stadium -- which would be built on a hillside -- providing creature comforts and expanding the fan experience.

Semcken said he would love to have a team for the 2011 season, and they would be prepared to do so. Even in a hypothetical scenario where Majestic Realty agreed to purchase an existing franchise, but the transaction wasn't approved until, say, a March or May 2011 league meeting, Semcken said that would be enough time for the team to be ready for training camp.

"As soon as we get a team we can put a shovel in the ground," he said. "The upfront financing is already in place, and we could start construction while we wait for the final financing."

The Majestic Realty project does not yet have a bank commitment, and Semcken has maintained they would not begin construction until they have a team, with the franchise playing a few seasons in the Rose Bowl or another existing stadium until construction is complete.

However, according to league sources with knowledge of Roski's bid, there are questions about financing.

"Who is paying for the stadium?" one source asked. "He either doesn't want to, or can't pay. Also, he is not building until he gets a team, and with our labor situations I don't see any team jumping out of its current location."

Several sources said a domed stadium near downtown Los Angeles would also be a preferred location to the City of Industry. However, they also noted that Roskie is much, much further along in the process than the downtown concept, and the timetable for putting a team in the City of Industry would be years ahead of the downtown stadium. Furthermore, Roskie has already been granted all environmental permissions and cleared what can be a tricky and difficult process to navigate in California in particular.

Reed Saxon / Associated Press
Majestic Realty vice president John Semcken is determined to build a stadium and bring an NFL team to the City of Industry.

Semcken declined to comment on the downtown L.A. proposal, saying it did not have any impact on his group's work. "We're moving forward on our project," he said.

The Majestic Realty project also includes costs for construction of a state-of-the-art practice facility. Semcken said in the interim the group has located three sites that could serve as team headquarters. All three are former school sites no longer in use and would be converted in a similar fashion to how the Raiders operated in El Segundo when the franchise was located in Los Angeles. Semcken said all three have necessary classrooms and meeting spaces, and the locker areas and fields could be converted up to professional standards without too much difficulty. He also said the potential for labor unrest or a lockout would not alter their construction schedule.

"We're meeting with teams, and we continue to move forward," Semcken said. "We are ahead of every other stadium project, including San Francisco's, in terms of design. We are ready to go. All we need is a team."

How long until someone sells, or opts to move, remains the critical question. Until a current owner has a feel for exactly what the future will hold from a CBA standpoint -- what will player costs look like; what percentages of revenues will go to players; if there is a salary cap; if the the nature of revenue sharing changes to any great degree - it might be hard to attach a value to the franchise and determine if the economics could still work in the existing locale.

"I don't think moving to L.A. is on any team's fast track at this point," a league source said.

But as long as teams like San Diego and Minnesota fight for new stadiums, or teams like Buffalo and Jacksonville struggle to bring in the kind of revenue of big-market teams, the allure of moving to Los Angeles will always be there. And eventually, it's going to happen -- whether it be downtown or in the City of Industry.



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