AEG Unveils L.A. Designs

AEG released architectural renderings Dec. 15 of what it hopes will be a future football venue in downtown Los Angeles, narrowing its short list of architects to three: HKS, which designed the new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas; HNTB, architect of Invesco Field in Denver; and Gensler, which designed the new hotel and condo tower at L.A. Live.

But getting the retractable-roofed, multipurpose venue built as part of the L.A. Convention Center, adjacent to the Staples Center and L.A. Live complex, still requires CEO Tim Leiweke to jump through a few hoops. And one is being held up by his boss, Philip Anschutz, who isn’t completely sold on the pitch, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Even as the renderings, and the three architects behind them, were made public, the plan to bring a pro football team back to the City of Angels – and build a Super Bowl-ready home for one – isn’t a done deal. Not only has the city of Los Angeles not approved a proposal – and there is another, shovel-ready project in suburban City of Industry to contend with – but there’s not even a team to woo.

Whether Anschutz is willing to foot the bill for a state-of-the-art venue and mitigate traffic, environmental concerns and taxpayer expense is not 100 percent certain, Leiweke told the paper.

“Not yet,” Leiweke, who did not attend the big reveal, said. “He’s getting there. This is a work in progress, and we’ve never made any bones about that. It’s always been a work in progress.

“We had to get everything lined up in order for [Anschutz] to give us the green light. We’re working on it, and we’re making progress. But we’re not there yet.”

And apparently neither is the city of Los Angeles or the National Football League, though there’s some intriguing tenant possibilities.

The San Diego Chargers continue to be bandied about despite denials they would leave Qualcomm Stadium when their lease runs out. And there’s been talk of the Minnesota Vikings escaping the aging Metrodome in Minneapolis, which gained steam with the collapse of its inflatable roof under heavy snow Dec. 11.

The Times adds a list of unhappy NFL teams in cities it calls “the usual suspects” including Oakland, St. Louis, Jacksonville and Buffalo. But no team has announced any plans to move anywhere.

And on the other side of town, developer Ed Roski hasn’t stepped out of the running just because AEG may want to jump in. In fact, the developer’s top representative took some pot shots at AEG and Leiweke in an Orange County Register interview just days before AEG’s short list of architects was revealed.

John Semcken, VP of Roski’s Majestic Realty that is behind the City of Industry proposal, told the paper that AEG’s downtown vision is a “pipe dream in Los Angeles that is confusing people.”

“Tim’s a bad guy,” Semcken said. “He can’t build the building. … At the end of the day, I don’t know why they’re doing it. It can’t be done. We can break ground tomorrow.” AEG, unsurprisingly, isn’t responding to the bait.

But odds are neither will break ground “tomorrow.” AEG, of course, has built successful, state-of-the-art venues all over the world. Yet Los Angeles is a tough nut to crack, and many have tried and failed to bring the NFL back since the Raiders and Rams left the city in 1994. And to build it, there has to be assurances a team will come.