The LA City Council today gave final approval to plans to build a new NFL stadium downtown, a key step in returning a pro football team to the nation’s No. 2 media market by 2017. The $1.5 billion project, which includes upgrading a portion of the adjacent LA Convention Center, is the one proposed to be privately funded by Anshutz Entertainment Group — the same AEG that has just put itself up for sale. That complication, plus the fact the plans face potential lawsuits from environmental and anti-poverty groups, usually means a governing body might have reservations about moving forward. But AEG gave city lawmakers a bit of assurance this week the key players who have carried the ball this far plan to stay, with AEG president Tim Leiweke saying earlier this week he has signed a deal to remain atop the company no matter who ends up buying it (AEG is financing the deal with help from city redevelopment bonds). It’s clear by the 12-0 vote that the Council is fully behind the 72,000-seat Farmers Field and the projected 10,000 temp and 4000 full-time jobs it will create. It now sets up the next step: finding a team. It’s expected that a current franchise will relocate (Chargers or Raiders anyone?) rather than come via league expansion. Movement on that front could come as early as March at the NFL owners meeting.
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