A proposal for a football stadium sailed through a Los Angeles City Council panel Monday despite the uncertain future of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which is developing the project.
Led by Councilwoman Jan Perry, the City Council's Ad Hoc Committee on Downtown Stadium and Convention Center Renovation backed AEG's plan for a $1.2 billion stadium and revamped convention center hall, which sends the project to a City Council vote on Friday.
While the panel's backing is viewed as a formality in the approval process, the public meeting drew renewed interest after Denver, Colo.-based Anschutz Company announced last week that it was putting AEG up for sale.
Appearing at the hearing, AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke "apologized for the disturbance and disruption of the process," and repeatedly sought to remind council members of AEG's long-standing business relationship with Los Angeles.
He also tried to assure council members that AEG was still capable of doing the deal, even if it has a new owner.
Even as the council members said they were caught off guard by the news, they didn't press Leiweke for details on the sale.
But Councilman Jose Huizar asked if Leiweke, the main architect of the stadium deal, might lose his job.
Leiweke said he "hoped" to keep his job, and stated he has a contract to keep his position.
Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller and City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana told
Addressing concern that the city might find the new owner unsavory, Miller told the panel the city would put in protections to make sure they weren't working "with a crook."
Another Ad Hoc panel member, Councilman Tom LaBonge, gave a series of rambling speeches during the meeting, at one point calling out the New York phone number for the National Football League.
He also tossed a football with a public speaker.
However Natural Resources Defense Council Attorney David Pettit was left with questions about the stadium plan and the unexpected sale.
During the meeting, Pettit, who helped AEG win state legislation to expedite any legal challenges to the stadium plan, took to Twitter to say that he, the mayor, and the City Council were played by AEG.
"It's a classic developer trick, where you get into a project, and you get the entitlements and you sell to someone to use," Pettit said in an interview later. "That's what it looks like."
Overall, the stadium project drew widespread support during the meeting.