Plans for a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles were approved by the City Council Friday, marking a crucial step in a long journey to bring an NFL team back to LA.
Anschutz Entertainment Group's privately funded $1.2 billion proposal includes a 76,000-seat stadium and a revamped LA Convention Center that would cost AEG up to $391 million.
The vote came after news broke recently that AEG was for sale, raising questions about the future of the stadium plan.
In a packed and noisy chamber, an enthusiastic council considered a development agreement with AEG, which also owns the neighboring Staples Center, and an environmental report on the stadium, among other items that must be approved for the project to move forward.
"This morning we're going to take a giant step forward in the city of Los Angeles. This is about bringing football back to the city of Los Angeles, and don't let anybody tell you it’s not," said Councilwoman Jan Perry, who headed an ad hoc council committe that oversaw the development of the stadium deal.
The stadium, slated to be called Farmers Field, will generate thousands of jobs and tax revenue for the city, said Perry, whose district would include the stadium.
Despite concerns about traffic, environmental impacts and the effect on a changing downtown, the proposal has met with little criticism from City Council members and has maintained strong support from labor unions.
Councilman Paul Koretz noted he had put a bumper sticker on his car saying "Bring Back the LA Rams."
AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke emphasized that the stadium will be paid for with private money. He also said union workers will build it, prompting cheers from the audience.
Patrick Soon-Shiong, LA's wealthiest man and a potential bidder for AEG, was sitting alongside Leiweke. So was former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and ex-NFL quarterback Rodney Peete.
Maria Elena Durazo, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, also spoke, praising Leiweke and the proposal as part of the "the new future of Los Angeles."
"We're fired up and ready to work; We're fired up and ready for football," Durazo said.
An approval of AEG's plan would set up fierce competition between the Denver-based company and Majestic Realty Co., which has approval to build a football stadium in the city of Industry.
Meanwhile, the NFL has not committed to sending a team to Los Angeles.
More on the stadium deal:
City News Service contributed to this report.