Lawsuit Challenging Stadium Deal Dropped

Tim Leiweke at City Hall with the 10,000-page environmental impact report for Farmers Field. The Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition had filed a lawsuit challenging a special state law that expedited the EIR process for AEG.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — A potential hurdle to Anschutz Entertainment Group’s $1.4 billion football stadium and convention center expansion plan was cleared today, with the announcement that a group challenging the project has dropped its lawsuit. The settlement includes a major financial pledge for affordable housing in Downtown and other areas.

The Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition, which in September initiated legal action against the project, negotiated commitments from AEG on a range of community benefits, including a pledge to establish a $15 million trust fund to create affordable housing in Pico-Union, South L.A. and Downtown, the group and AEG said in a statement.

“This began as a legal negotiation but soon evolved into a cooperative dialogue about how we could work together to achieve the common goal of serving the needs of all segments of the community on important issues such as affordable housing,” said AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke in the statement.

The coalition, which includes the Los Angeles Community Action Network, a Downtown-based advocate for the low-income and homeless communities, had filed a lawsuit challenging SB 292. The bill shortened the window during which entities could pursue legal challenges to the Farmers Field environmental impact report. AEG officials had warned that the suit could imperil the project, which the City Council unanimously approved on Sept. 28.

According to the statement, the coalition’s resolution with AEG also establishes a “community input process, a public safety working group and access for small local vendors to participate during events at Farmers Field.”

Even with the matter settled, AEG’s football plan still faces several key obstacles, including its attempt to secure an NFL team. The announced sale of the company by Phil Anschutz has also created an air of uncertainty.

Contact Ryan Vaillancourt at ryan@downtownnews.com.