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Steinberg: Get ready for some football

August 06, 2011|By Leigh Steinberg

The successful beginning of the approval process of AEG's proposal to build a new stadium in downtown Los Angeles means that the NFL is finally on track to return to Southern California. There will be delays, environmental impact reports, opposition by taxpayers, twists and turns galore, but the train delivering NFL football to our region is firmly on tracks that will lead to a new stadium and possibly two new teams.

I have been involved in saving or attracting franchises for many years. In 1992, I was asked by Mayor Frank Jordan of San Francisco to lead an effort to stop the San Francisco Giants from going through with a signed deal that would move the club to Tampa Bay. We needed to convince Major League Baseball to disapprove the move as "against the best interests of baseball."

We needed to advance a new stadium plan in a city with Byzantine fractionalized politics. And we needed to assemble a new group of local buyers. We succeeded, which resulted in being sued by the Tampa Bay group for a billion dollars.

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In 1994, I was asked by Mayor Elihu Harris of Oakland to stop the Oakland A's from leaving town. We assembled leading businessmen and developed a "There is no OaklAnd without the A's" program to build local support. We found new local ownership to buy the team.

When Georgia Frontiere and John Shaw threatened to move the Rams to St. Louis in 1994, we created "Save The Rams" with 150 local businessmen and leaders. Former Disneyland President Jack Lindquist and I were co-chairman. We went to municipalities throughout Orange County that would achieve benefits to see if there was a way of taking the sole burden from Anaheim for the costs of a new stadium and practice facility. In conjunction with Mayor Tom Dailey and City Manager Jim Ruth of Anaheim, we helped develop the concept of a new stadium surrounded by a "Sportstown" — a Disneyland of sports with interactive rides, retail and hotels.

This was an attempt to create more economic activity than simply 10 home-date Sunday's for stadium use. We succeeded in getting the NFL to vote against the move at its league meeting in Phoenix. But Orange County went bankrupt in the middle of the process and ruined chances for success.

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