You know you're in La-La land when you don't have an NFL team, you don't have an NFL-approved stadium, but you do have the most enormous branding deal ever.
Today billionaire Phil Anschutz' AEG took a major step toward building a $1 billion state of the art stadium next to his Staples Center and L.A. Live. AEG hopes the facility will attract one, possibly two, existing NFL franchises, as well as the Super Bowl (the first Super Bowl was played in LA), and even the NCAA Final Four. Farmers Insurance has agreed to a naming rights deal which sources tell CNBC is worth $700 million over 30 years if one football team comes and could be worth $1 billion if two do. The new stadium will be called Farmers Field.
But Farmers won't pay much, if anything, if no team comes at all.
Here is AEG's Tim Leiweke and Farmers' Kevin Kelso with me on The Callthis morning, as Leiweke promises the new stadium won't cost taxpayers a dime.
The news conference announcing the deal was typical for Los Angeles—star studded. But these were not the usual celebrities from the red carpet. Deacon Jones, Rosey Grier, Jim Brown, Jerry West, Magic Johnson (with Staples next door, the Lakers have a vested interest) and many others took the stage to throw their support behind AEG. This is not good news for Ed Roski, who has plans to build his own stadium a few miles east.
Casey Wasserman has been instrumental in bringing the stadium to life (it still needs city approval), and he has been talking with teams who might want to move.
No, he won't name names, but in this interview, he explains why this may be LA's best (last?) chance to bring back a team.
Finally, I grew up going to see the Rams play at the Coliseum.
To see Deacon Jones and Rosey Grier is humbling. These once fearsome players now appear to me as gentle grandfathers.
As I approached Jones for an interview, my cameraman gingerly tugged on his arm to move him into the light. "Why are you pulling on me?" Jones said with a glint in his eye. "Don't you know my reputation? See these hands?"
I felt a chill run down my spine...
Here I ask the NFL Hall of Famer which team he'd like to see move to Los Angeles.
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