The following are excerpts from a recent presentation by Tim Leiweke, president of AEG, to the Valley Industry and Commerce Association earlier this month. In the speech, Leiweke provides the most comprehensive pitch to date for a plan to bring an NFL stadium to L.A. Live and to re-work the L.A. Convention Center with the new stadium in mind. Leiweke sees the project as a catalyst for the development of five new hotels and a host of other amenities Downtown.
How can the second-largest marketplace in the United States not be in the NFL, and how can the NFL not be here? We are growing a generation without an NFL team, and they are allowing that generation to grow up without a favorite team. People say to me, "Do you really think it's that important?" I happen to believe it is. Are the Lakers important to L.A.? Are the Dodgers important to L.A.? Are the Kings important to L.A.? That's our identity. That's what emotionally and passionately drives us as human beings to come together to celebrate our community. Every community. Tell me right now how San Francisco feels about the Giants. Yet we sit here for well over ten years now without an NFL team.
Does that league need us? Yes. They know they want to be back here; they're committed to being back here, but they want to make sure that it's perfect. Figure those ten games as the centerpiece of the economics that drive, hopefully, somewhere between two and three Super Bowls once they understand our sunshine. We can get, with a roof that closes, two Final Fours, we think, in ten years. We can get the finals of the most important sporting event in the history of mankind, the World Cup. If the United States wins the bid in 2022, the finals come to L.A. They should be here. The media village should be here. The headquarters should be in L.A. We should be the soccer capital for the World Cup in 2022.
Then you add in the conventions, the expositions, and the trade shows. Then you get the X-Games to move here permanently. Maybe we have college football tournaments that start the year off here in L.A. If we think outside the box on how we take this 1.4 million square feet and this 78,000-seat football stadium, and we go after every big event that exists in the United States and the world, we become the event capital, we become the convention capital, and, yes, we become the football capital of the world.
That's the vision. And we do it privately. There's been a lot of trash thrown at us in the last three weeks from other people who don't want this vision to have legs, who don't want reality. Here are the plain facts. What we're trying to work through-and we've got a lot of work, and we are not at the finish line, ladies and gentlemen, we're at the starting gate-but if we work this through, it costs a billion dollars to build a football stadium. Some say you can't build it for that. Well I say, look, if we're wrong, we're paying for it. What do you care? If we spent $1.2 billion, then it's our money. You should probably hope we go over, so it creates more jobs. Jerry Jones built a stadium of 3 million square feet and spent $1.2 billion. That's $400 a square foot. There's no magic here, folks. It's just square-footage cost in construction. Our stadium's going to be 1.7 million square feet. Times it by $400 a square foot. Do the math. It's $850 million.
We can build this for a billion and make it world class, because we already have the rest of the amenities. We already have restaurants, bars, nightlife, hotel rooms, and, by the way, a convention center with all the meeting space. We have all that-we don't need to build 3 million square feet.
What does it take to get this done? First we've got to get a deal done with the league. The league right now is focused on other things, including their collective bargaining agreement, but I have faith in Roger; I have faith in the league; I have faith in those 32 owners. They want to be here. We don't have to wait around for them to say we're in for us to say let's start the entitlement process, and let's start the design process.
Secondly, we've got to get a deal done with the city. I know a lot of people think we have some kind of special relationship with the mayor because we invited him to sit in a suite one night, but the reality is, anyone who has dealt with City Hall knows that we do not have a mayoral form of government. It's run by the 15 council members. We are going to negotiate with the chief legislative analyst, who happens to be the guy that starts the flow of legislation within the city of Los Angeles. We are proposing to him a pretty simple deal. I'm fairly certain we'll get that deal done. My daughter could negotiate that deal, probably better than I can. But free is free. We'll figure this one out. And you know why? Because if we do it, five new hotels will be built in South Park in Downtown Los Angeles: five new hotels; a billion-dollar stadium; and a $300-million expansion to the Convention Center. This isn't just a stand-alone stadium for eight or ten games. We'd change the dynamics of the economics of our city for all of us, forever. And we'd employ 25,000 people annually that weren't employed before that. It's simple. We'll get a deal done with the city....
...Finally, we have to figure out how to pay for it privately, which means we've got to sell things. We've got to sell naming rights, founding partners, suites, club seats, and seat licenses. We have enough experience to do that from the Staples Center, the Home Depot Center, and the Nokia Theater, where that's a risk we're willing to take. We have 130 people full-time at AEG who sit Downtown and sell these kinds of inventory. We have a corporate sponsorship division that sells $400 million worth of sponsorship on an annual basis for our own inventory. We'll take that risk.
Let's return to the very theory that the Staples Center has proved successful: great points of destination turn communities around. Our selling point, and our reason, for jumping back into this is because we in California have a decision to make. If you look at the election and if you look at the frustration that we all have with our government in Sacramento and our budget system, we have to make a decision. Are we going to be a state of pensions and welfare, or are we going to be a state that once again returns to a golden era of being that shining star that everyone looks at and inspires the rest of the country? I do not believe our government is going to create this state as the Golden State again. I have no faith in that. No disrespect, but I think they've got their hands full. They need to stick to the basic elements of education, safety, and transportation. That means the private sector is going to have to step up to answer the call. If we're going to create jobs, if we are going to be the state of the great entrepreneurs, if we're going to be the city that ultimately changes our economics, it's going to have to come from the private sector.
Our theory is simple. You look at our city, and you look at the economy and the industry that is backbone of the city: the entertainment industry, the convention industry, and the event industry. Now it doesn't mean we don't have great diversification, with banks, trust funds, investment funds, manufacturing, and education. All of that is important. But the number one economic driver in Southern California is tourism, and why not?...We need to understand and define what we do well. As a community, no one should beat us when it comes to events and tourism and conventions. But we were 26, behind Omaha, up until a year ago. Yet from a tourism standpoint, we spent less money on tourism. Put it this way: the city of San Diego spends more money in L.A. on tourism than we spend as a city everywhere. If you look at our industry, and you look at the issues we have as a community, if we're going to create jobs, we'd better get this one right.
Our theory is simple. Don't build it for ten days a year-build it for 50 days a year. Design a football stadium as an event center. Design a football stadium that when you connect it to the Convention Center, and we can finally get the Convention Center right. Today we have a convention center that is less than a million square feet, but even worse, our convention center today is in three separate pieces. If you're a big convention looking for flat space, you don't come to L.A. You go to San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Omaha, Las Vegas, Orlando, New York, or Chicago, but you do not come to L.A. The Microsoft convention we just announced a few months ago in cooperation with Austin [Beutner] and the mayor, that was headed to Houston, Texas, is a convention that takes place in August. If you've been to Houston in August, you know we must be really bad to lose conventions to Houston in August.
We need to redefine our convention space so we are top five, and that's what this event center will do. We will create 1.4 million square feet connected, and, more importantly, almost a million square feet of that is going to be continuous space without poles or obstruction. From a flat space and from convention space, talking to the big convention planners-who, by the way, are all in town today to talk, and believe me, we're pitching our brains out to them about our new vision-we will be one of the great convention markets in the United States. We've got to correct two things. We need a functional, continuous, large platform for a convention center, and we need more hotel rooms. The first idea is to make sure this stadium has additional exhibition space, additional breakout space, and additional meeting space. Plan suites in the event center and the VIP and the club spaces so that they're breakout rooms. Plan the field so that we can have a significant amount of square-footage to close the roof and put a flooring system on top of it and do exhibitions on the floor. Have escalator systems so that everything is connected, and we have 1.4-million square feet now to go compete for the biggest, best conventions in the world. If we double our conventions, that means we're going to double our hotel rooms, double our bus transportation, double our taxi-cab jobs, double our restaurants, and double our intake.
In the back of our minds is building the most environmentally friendly stadium ever built in the NFL, and we've got a shot to do that because we are within a block of that light-rail. We have a station there. That light-rail will eventually hook up to a majority of our metropolitan area. We'd love to convince people to use it. We have about 5-7 percent of the people who work for us use the light rail to come to work at the Staples Center every day. If you look at those light rail stations on the night of the Lakers games or Kings games, a lot of the fans have figured out how to use light rail. That's great. So whether it's light rail, a new surface streetcar system in Downtown Los Angeles that we're pushing with Eli Broad and Rick Caruso, the DART/DASH system, or the fact that we have 40-50,000 people who live Downtown and 350,000 people who work Downtown, and all those people walk to games-we don't need to build 30,000 parking spaces. In fact, we don't need to build more than just one new garage and renovate another one. What I like about our plan is it's environmentally friendly.
What people don't know is that the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott was just voted one of the top six developments in the world, and won the ULI award, which is very prestigious. One of the reasons is we are LEED. We are very driven by the environment. Staples was the first arena to put solar panels on the roof. This stadium has to be a prototype. There's no way it can be a prototype if it's not hooked up to light rail and we don't put further emphasis on hooking everyone in the community into this stadium by light rail.
If you look at the City of Industry, you're gong there by car. That's an issue. One of the things we're building into our plan is a lot of dialogue with the city to take the current light rail stop and build that into a more prominent platform, taking up the crowds, and certainly push three cars. We can get that in Downtown Los Angeles, whether it be from Union Station or from all the other light rail substations that are created Downtown. Even today we have a shuttle system that takes the kids from USC into L.A. Live every night, and it's packed every night. We've got to get to a point where we get people out of their cars, and the only way this football stadium's going to work is if we build it on the back of a transportation system that's already in place.
There are no teams that can come here for at least a year. What we have to do is what Ed [Roski] has already done, which is start our entitlement. We can't wait, so we're going to have to start our entitlement in the near future, and that means Mr. Anschutz is going to have to take some risk. Is he prepared to do that? We have to get a few things done in the next 30-60 days, so we can go back to him and say, "Here's the vision for the people of the city, and we think we have support from all concerned parties. Here's the CEQA protection that [Roski] got in Sacramento that we're going to ask for," the only difference is that we'll do the full entitlement. We're not trying to duck the entitlement, but we have enough commitment from the political leaders in Sacramento to get us that. "Here's what we think we're at in contractually obligated income and the company has to believe we can sell it, and here's where we're at in the feedback from the NFL as to timing." That is what we're in the middle of now.
If all that gets to the point where Phil [Anschultz] is comfortable, then we begin the entitlement in January. No one wants the team for a year. They've got to get through the collective bargaining first. What we're trying to do is get the entitlement done in a year, and then a year from now, we'll be in a position where, if they want to bring a team here, we'll have a stadium that's ready to push through.
Most importantly, we have a billion dollars. We don't need financing. If Mr. Anschutz decides to do this, it won't be subject to financing. We can do this on our own. So, January 2012, we have to begin to build the new West Hall. Then we have to finish that, say that takes a year-and that's quick. January or February 2013, we've got to tear down the old West Hall. Then, within a month or two after that, we have to build the stadium. The stadium's going to take-my contractor, my construction project manager, my architect all say 36 months, and I'm like, "Look, if we build Staples Center in 18 months and that's a million square feet, we'll get this thing done in 30 months." But that's 30 months, and it's tight.
If we did it right, then we're asking the league to consider the 50th anniversary of the first Super Bowl, which occurred in Los Angeles, coming back to L.A. in February 2016. They don't do that usually, because the stadium has to be up and open for a year before they'll award the Super Bowl, but we're asking to look at our track record, the uniqueness of that anniversary, and the place that this city has played in hosting the majority of Super Bowls-when you compare to any other city in the United States, we've hosted more Super Bowls than anybody; we just haven't hosted one in many years-we would hope that a commitment out of the league gives us a tight timeline that I can motivate everybody to stick to, and by September of 2015 the new stadium would open.
I've learned that what we lack in L.A. sometimes is leadership, so I look in the private sector and say your day for support will come. It's called seat licenses and club seats and suites, and I have faith that the private sector, not just in Downtown Los Angeles, but-you know, this community is not hard to figure out. Look at the beach communities, and that's where we sell our suites and club seats. Look at the Downtown business community and the business community on the Wilshire Corridor going out to the Westside in Century City-that's where we sell all of our premium seats. We know where all those people are. I have faith that if we build it, you will all come.
I'm looking at it the other way, which is that if we could ever pull it off and get all five hotels built, if we could ever pull it off and become top five in the convention business and double the conventions that we now get, if we could ever get Final Fours and Super Bowls here, we might actually have real retail shopping centers in Downtown Los Angeles. I know we're all excited about Target, and I love Target, but I'm not going there if I'm coming in from out of town and I want to go get some L.A. stuff, right?
We've got to think about all of the other things that happen in the private sector. This is a simple little theory: if we bring in another 4-5 million people to Downtown Los Angeles between conventions, football games, and special events, then there are a bunch of people sitting there in the private sector going, "Hey, I've got a big idea. I'm going to open up a new retail shopping center," or a new hotel or a new restaurant. If you just look at the new restaurants in Downtown L.A. today, because of L.A. Live-everyone thought we were going to put a fence around L.A. Live, and we didn't-so there's 40 or 50 new restaurants, great restaurants, in Downtown Los Angeles. We are about, I hope, to announce another hotel, first quarter, that will be built next to L.A. Live. We have momentum here, and the only thing I want out of the private sector is to wake up in the morning and say, "I believe we were put down here in order to test ourselves on a daily basis." What this city needs more than anything today are entrepreneurs that want to test themselves.
I believe that a team coming back to L.A., I believe that an event center that changes the economics of our city forever, I believe that an opportunity to bring Final Fours and the World Cup and Super Bowls to our city, I believe we can sell that. I'll take that risk and Mr. Anschutz will take that risk. Now we have work to do, but ours is a simple vision, which is, if we as a community are going to be asked to support, through ticket sales, suite sales, seat licenses, naming rights, and founding partners, if we're going to support it, then one, let's do it where it has the greatest economic impact, and two, let's create the most jobs possible. Because if we don't do it, folks, in the private sector, it's not going to get done. Don't build a stand-alone stadium that is hard to get to that will do ten games. The NFL wants to come back here, and I do believe this time we have a shot to get this done.