LOS ANGELES -- City Council President Herb Wesson on Tuesday cautioned against prematurely abandoning support for professional football in Los Angeles, saying he is convinced billionaire Philip Anschutz is sincere in his plans for bring a team to the L.A. Live site.
"I talked with (Anschutz) after he made his decision to not sell AEG and he told me that he is continuing to actively pursue professional football and he has a number of other plans for Los Angeles," Wesson said.
"I think we have to give him some room. Everything he and his company have promised has been accomplished. "
Anschutz earlier this month decided to pull Anschutz Entertainment Group off of the market after bids came in lower than expected.
Wesson said he understands the frustrations expressed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilwoman Jan Perry, who want to see plans developed to modernize and expand the Convention Center even without football.
"We do need to improve the Convention Center, but I think we should wait and see how the plans for football develop. There was a great deal of uncertainty (with the NFL) when AEG was up for sale," Wesson said.
"Now, that (Anschutz) is engaged again, we have a billionaire talking with other billionaires. He is the one who will be talking with the NFL and I want us to support him: In my view, we should let him proceed. "
Wesson said that would include the possibility of extending a city deadline of 2014 to have a deal with the NFL and for allowing the Convention Center expansion.
"We haven't got to that point yet," Wesson said. "I would like to hear what our committee on the stadium says about that. We have done a lot of work and we need to try to see this to the end. "
AEG had proposed tearing down the West Hall of the Convention Center to make way for the football stadium. The West Hall would be replaced with a new facility on Pico Boulevard.
AEG officials said they would not comment on Wesson's statements.
After he made his decision to retain the company, Anschutz said in an interview that Los Angeles should look at his decision as positive for the city in its efforts to move forward the process of acquiring an NFL team.
"I'm the only one who has spent $45 million to $50 million out of pocket on this," Anschutz said. "I have made a substantial investment and I will tell you I do not spend money out of the joy of writing checks. Obviously, I think there is a good opportunity here for the city and a good business opportunity for the company. I believe this will get the process moving again. "
There have been a number of efforts over the years to try to convince the NFL to return to Los Angeles. Some of the proposals have won the support of league staffers.
Immediately after the Anschutz announcement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he welcomed working with Anschutz and considered his decision to retain the company a positive step.
At the same time, Goodell said Dodger Stadium remained a viable alternative to the downtown location.
Also, real estate magnate Ed Roski has his own proposal for a stadium in the San Gabriel Valley. ___
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