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.