DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – City officials have been demanding for an expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center, and while the Anschutz Entertainment Group has agreed to do that work if it brings an NFL team to its proposed Farmers Field; the city is also pursuing a “Plan B” to overhaul the Convention Center on its own. The city in October selected three architectural teams to compete for the design bid, and they are now waiting for official approval from the Bureau of Engineering to begin the design process. The three teams are AC Martin Partners and LMN Architects, Lehrer Architects and Gensler, and HMC Architects and Populus. Each team will present two design concepts, and projected budgets for each design must fall between $250 million and $350 million. The teams were picked based on the strength of their portfolios and experience on large exhibition halls, among other criteria. The designs will be judged by a panel comprising multiple city agencies, the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti. A public comment period in January will allow stakeholders to help shape the city’s design criteria. As part of a deal to extend the football hunt until April, AEG is paying $750,000 to the city to cover the firms’ work.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – Anschutz Entertainment Group already has its corporate headquarters located at L.A. Live, but the company is expanding its footprint into DTLA. AEG is leasing the six-story, 1917 Desmond building at Hope and Eleventh streets and will move more than 500 employees to that location, the company announced this week.
The move is expected to happen in April 2015 after building owner Lincoln Property Company completes renovations on the Desmond. Renovations include tech infrastructure upgrades throughout the structure, seismic retrofitting and the creation of a new sixth floor, dubbed the “glass pavilion,” built on the existing rooftop. The 82,000-sq-ft Desmond will also have a ground-floor café in addition to AEG’s office space, which will house operations for the company’s AEG Live and AXS Ticketing divisions.
“With this decision, we are bringing leading global brands in the ticketing and live music business to what is clearly now the region’s most important business district,” AEG Vice Chairman Ted Fikre said. “That’s a big for us and a significant win for Downtown.”
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas first began trying to bring professional football back to LA more than 15 years ago. At the time, he was a City Councilman and helmed an effort to lure an expansion franchise to a refurbished Coliseum in Exposition Park. Although the then-$300 million aim pales in comparison to the $1 billion or more that new stadiums cost to construct these days, the attempt fell short. Houston won out when businessman Robert McNair outbid L.A., paying $700 million for the rights to secure a team.
Ridley-Thomas has continued to keep an eye on local football recruitment efforts, and to keep tabs with NFL officials. That made his remarks last week on the attempt to score a team very interesting.
In short, he said, don’t hold out hope for a team coming to Farmers Field or any location in the region anytime soon. In fact, he didn’t have endearing words for the league.
“I don’t believe the NFL is serious yet,” he said. “They’re having a good time feigning seriousness. The only thing that they’re doing is stoking their brand and having a whole lot of people who are financially endowed pursue them.”
Ridley-Thomas comments came at a luncheon at the Downtown Palm. The event, hosted by the Loas Angeles Current Affairs Forum, drew about 60 local leaders from the fields of real estate, law, labor and more.
The conversation came as Anschutz Entertainment Group’s effort to bring a team to a $1.4 billion Downtown Los Angeles stadium has lost momentum. Former AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke, who had been the face of the effort, left the company in March 2013.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – Over the last decade there has been no bigger player in downtown Los Angeles than Anschutz Entertainment Group. The privately held company opened Staples Center and L.A. Live and built the Convention Center headquarters hotel. Directly and indirectly, it has had a hand in almost every project of note in South Park in the past decade and in many other Downtown developments as well. Its biggest play could still be to come, if the $1.4 billion Farmers Field football stadium every comes to fruition.
Despite all the huge projects that have been created, it is one of AEG’s smallest projects that right now has a number of South Park residents totally amped. AEG quietly opened an approximately quarter-acre dog run in November 2013. It is easy to miss, not only because the company did not hold a grand opening event. Placed alongside the 110 Freeway and shielded by a fence covered with bougainvillea, one could walk or drive to L.A. Live or Staples Center for a show, meal or game and never know there is a place for people and their pets.
Part of what is so impressive about the park is that AEG created it and made it available to everyone even though it does not contribute directly to the company’s bottom line. Yes, AEG touted it as an amenity several years ago when selling the condos in the Ritz-Carlton, but the small pet facility is not likely to make or break any sales. While the dog run doesn’t create revenue, it does help build a sense of community, and in the process makes L.A. Live a more welcoming space. As people throughout DTLA have noticed, you meet new folks when you go walking the neighborhood with your pet. The few and far between dog parks in DLTA are hubs for canine activity as well as human interaction. Letting a pet get some exercised is not the only reason that people visit the dog park day after day.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – The once heated attempt to bring professional football to Los Angeles by the way of Farmers Field in Downtown Los Angeles has been cool since former Anschutz Entertainment Group President and CEO Tim Leiweke left the company back in March.
However, recently, AEG gave indications that it is still trying to land a team and build a 68,000-seat stadium in South Park. The company on Nov. 7 secured the approval of the Cultural Affairs Commission for its design of what it dubbed the Los Angeles Convention Hall; plans call for razing the older of the two Convention Center buildings, erecting Farmers Filed on that plot, and then building a new Convention Center edifice that connects with the newer building. The commission also approved designs of two new parking garages. “This is another important milestone in our continued efforts to move this project forward; to modernize and increase productivity of the Los Angeles Convention Center and bring back the NFL to Los Angeles,” said Ted Fikre, AEG’s vice chairman and chief legal and development officer.
AEG has said it would not move forward on construction until a deal with an NFL team is signed. The company is also scheduled to become the operator of the Convention Center.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – Although the Lakers and Clippers are in offseason, basketball fans will flock to Downtown Los Angeles this weekend for the Nike 3on3 Basketball Tournament at L.A. Live. This event draws thousands of amateur ballers and spectators from around the country and the world.
L.A. Live and Chick Hearn Court will be filled with half court set-ups, where contestants in various age and skill-based divisions will battle it out. In addition to the tournament, spectators can enjoy a celebrity game, a slam dunk contest and several other activities.
Just a couple fun facts about Southern California’s biggest basketball tournament:
There is a zero registration cost in dollars for participants in the tournaments’ wheelchair and Special Olympics divisions. The wheelchair competition is among the weekend’s most exciting happenings, with participants zipping around the court on their wheels to the basket and making loads of impressive shots.
The event takes over L.A. Live for three whole days. Although the basketball action doesn’t take place until August 10, the tournament kicks off Friday evening with the Joshua Hutcherson Celebrity Game. The Hunger Games co-star will be joining by the likes of actor Michael Rapaport, comedian Nick Swardson and ex-NFL player Terrell Owens in a 7 p.m. showdown at Nokia Plaza. This event will be ticketed and all proceeds will go to Hutcherson’s charity Straight but Not Narrow, which encourages young people to ally with the LGBT community.
The Nike 3on3 Tournament has been in Downtown Los Angeles for five years now. The first event in 2009 was called the Lakers 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament and was organized by the Lakers and AEG with help from the founders of Spokane Hoopfest, a three-on-three tournament in Spokane, Washington that started in 1990. Nike became a partner in 2010.
There will be 100 half-courts that will be set up along Chick H earn Court and in the parking lots on Figueroa Street across from L.A. Live. In the three-on-three games, the team change possession after each score and the first team to 21 wins.
25,000 spectators flock to L.A. Live to watch the games. In addition to the tournament, there is a fan fest with more than 20 vendors passing out freebies and doing demos. This year’s lineup includes coconut Water Company Zico and Nike, which will provide custom socks. The L.A. sparks and L.A. Galaxy will be on hand for basketball and soccer clinics. Anybody can sign up on the spot for an array of “pay to play” contests on the Nokia Plaza center court. For $5, contestants can play old basketball games like Knock Out, or participate in a three-point shooting competition for a chance to win prizes such as a night in a suite at the J.W. Marriott. Visit nike3on3.com for further information.
Anschutz Entertainment Group, which co-owned the sports bar with ESPN, will replace the bar and restaurant with three new restaurants by Denver-based Consumer Concept Group.
The new spots will include Tom’s Urban 24, which features what an AEG statement dubbed “urban cuisine and epic cocktails,” Live Basil Pizza and Smashburger, which specializes in gourmet burgers at affordable prices. All three eateries plan to debut in Q4 of 2013.
The move, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times, adds extra options to the sports and entertainment campus, without suddenly depriving L.A. Live-goers of a place to saddle up to a bar and watch football, hockey or baseball. The Yard House, with its plethora of TVs, is a veritable sports bar, and most L.A. Live restaurants have TVs dialed to ESPN.
Tom’s Urban 24 is open in Denver for 24 hours. It is uncertain whether the L.A. Live outpost will also operate around the clock, but will probably stay open later than most restaurants in the complex.
ESPN, which occupies office space above the now-shuttered ESPN Zone where it produces the west coast Sports Center, is not otherwise impacted by the change.