Heading off a controversy that threatened to tarnish today's Lakers victory parade, officials said Tuesday the event will be funded by private donors and the team, not city taxpayers.
The parade from Staples Center to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the rally afterward are estimated to cost from $800,000 to $2 million. With Los Angeles facing a massive budget deficit, critics had questioned plans to have the city pick up some of the tab as it had in the past.
But Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said private donors have contributed $900,000 for the event and the Lakers and AEG, owners of Staples Center, will pay for the rest.
Villaraigosa, however, made it clear that a parade would have gone on regardless of the city costs.
"Look, if we weren't doing a parade there would have been a brouhaha over that," Villaraigosa said during a news conference at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo.
"Do you think if Orlando won, they wouldn't be having a parade? Chicago? Boston? Cleveland? I know we have 12 percent unemployment and over 21,000 people losing their home. But this is a time to celebrate a great championship team, a great champion city."
Villaraigosa noted the team's presence in Los Angeles has translated to a major economic benefit - generating more than $160 million a year in revenue.
Also, he said, the parade will produce about $15 million for the city.
Councilman Bernard Parks said many of the personnel needed for crowd and traffic control are already working and there will be no cost for them.
"The only additional cost will be if we have to put people on overtime," Parks said.
The parade will start at 11 a.m., when double-decker buses with the team and Lakers organization ride from Staples down two miles along Figueroa Street. It will end up around noon at the Coliseum, with a rally featuring players, team officials and others.
Gates to the Coliseum will
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Warning they would show zero tolerance toward violence, officials asked Laker fans to show the same grace as the team demonstrated in its win against the Orlando Magic.
Lakers guard Derek Fisher joined local officials in urging people to celebrate peacefully.
"We feel privileged that we represent this great city," Fisher said. "Each time we go out there, we are representing ourselves and Los Angeles and try to do that in a way that makes us proud.
"When we win, we celebrate, but we do it in a way that we respect one another and the community we live in. At the parade, we are going to have our parents and grandparents. Our aunts and uncles and kids. We want everyone to behave."
Fisher and others were concerned about the demonstration of violence that occurred outside Staples after the team's championship victory Sunday where rowdy fans interrupted traffic, turned over cars, rocked buses and looted stores.
Eighteen people were arrested and police are still looking for others who were videotaped on security cameras committing crimes in the aftermath of the victory.
Police Chief William Bratton said plainclothes officers will mingle in the crowd during the parade and rally.
"Anyone who wants to come in to this event to disrupt it, to celebrate themselves rather than the Lakers, stay home," Bratton said.
"If you come in and you're drinking, you're drunk and you're misbehaving, you're going to be arrested."
AEG President Tim Leiweke said Villaraigosa played a major role in helping raise the money to cover the city cost.
Leiweke said the mayor called him last week about the issue, but he didn't want to do anything out of fear of jinxing the team.
"We talked Sunday night and between then and (Tuesday) morning put it all together," Leiweke said. "I felt it was important because this town deserves a parade, and I didn't want Los Angeles to be the first city ever not to hold a parade for its champions. It would be easy to throw rocks at it, but it would be worse if we didn't do this."
The money raised to cover the city costs came mostly in donations from local wealthy couples including: entertainment mogul Casey Wasserman and his wife, Laura; philanthropist Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe; former Univision chairman Jerry Perenchio and his wife, Margie; media billionaire Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl; real-estate developer and minority-share Lakers owner Ed Roski and his wife, Gayle; Sharon and Joe Hernandez of Melissa's World Variety Produce; and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
Leiweke said he was pleased with how much was raised and from so few people.
"They stepped up to the plate and were eager to help," Leiweke said.