Official: LA stadium backer ties won’t taint panel

The co-chairman of a commission appointed by the mayor to

analyze plans for a downtown Los Angeles NFL stadium defended the

panel’s independence Thursday in light of members’ ties to the

developer of the proposed venue.

Deputy mayor and economic policy chief Austen Beutner said after

the commission’s first meeting that all of the business and civic

leaders on the panel are committed to doing what’s right for city

residents.

“Just because they’ve known someone in the past, I don’t think

prejudices them in any way shape or form,” said Beutner, who also

noted that sports and entertainment company AEG played no role in

selecting committee members.

The Associated Press reported last week that most members of

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s commission on the proposed stadium had

financial, political or civic ties with AEG, although Beutner was

not among them.

AEG’s plan calls for the city to issue up to $350 million in

bonds to relocate a huge convention center structure where the

64,000-seat stadium would be built. The company has promised to

service that debt and pay any shortfalls.

City officials must also approve AEG’s lease for space on the

city-owned convention center property. AEG has also said it will

pick up the entire $1 billion tab for the stadium itself.

Beutner said the commission, which includes former Gov. Gray

Davis, Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton,

and Colony Capital LLC principal Richard Nanula, would not endorse

a plan that didn’t provide a net gain to the city.

“This has the potential to be transformative,” he said. “But we

need to do it right and our charge is to make sure it’s done

right.”

AEG’s plan is one of two competing proposals that aim to bring

football back to Los Angeles more than 15 years after the Rams and

Raiders left the huge market.

Warehouse magnate Ed Roski has permits in place to build a

75,000-seat stadium about 15 miles east of Los Angeles in the city

of Industry.

Both camps have said they hope to recruit a team – and possibly

two – from among those in the league that need a new stadium to

maximize revenue but are unable to get one built in their current

locations.