One Playing Field For Everyone
Posted July 29, 2011
Entertainment giant AEG wants to build a new football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. My colleague Damon Nagami blogged about the AEG project here, and the Los Angeles Times had a long editorial about the project here.
This week, the Los Angeles City Council is holding hearings on a proposed agreement between AEG and the City called a “Memorandum of Understanding” or “MOU.” You can read the MOU, the AEG proposal and related documents here.
The City hearings are focusing on the economic merits of the MOU. I’m no expert in stadium financing and I don’t know if the MOU is a good deal for the City or not.
But one thing I do know is that there is no reason to give AEG a free pass out of our judicial system for this project, as some have suggested. We don’t have a separate legal system for the super-rich. Yes, billionaire Ed Roski’s still-unbuilt stadium project got a free pass from litigation from the California Legislature – but that was wrong, and I think many in Sacramento have now realized this.
Successful mega-projects have been and are being built in California without any exemption from our environmental laws. Local examples are Staples Center and L.A. Live – both owned by AEG. Here is a rendering of the proposed new stadium, called Farmers Field, not coincidentally located right next to Staples Center and L.A. Live.
AEG says that it is worried about frivolous or extortionary lawsuits delaying the project – but I’m not. I know that AEG’s lawyers are extraordinarily capable, and I have confidence in the ability of our court system to quickly dispose of cases that shouldn’t be there.
In a week or so, the City Council will move from the economic merits of the MOU to the type of environmental review that the project will receive. NRDC’s message is clear: no one-off deal for the AEG project, and no exemptions from California environmental laws. We have one system of justice, one level playing field, in California, and let’s keep it that way.