AEG: No downtown Dodgers park
LOS ANGELES -- Major League Baseball has not reached out to AEG about building a downtown stadium for the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite Internet reports, AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke said Wednesday.
AEG owns the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles and has proposed building an NFL stadium near the site.
"Under no circumstances are we interested in building a baseball stadium," Leiweke said. "If you logically just think through playing baseball games in April, May and June when we have Lakers, Clippers and Kings playoff games that are scheduled on a week's notice. Look at the conflict that would be created during that time. If you logically think through baseball playoff games which are scheduled on a week's notice and we have Kings, Lakers and Clippers beginning their season, it doesn't work."
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Last month the Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court Monday after baseball commissioner Bud Selig rejected a multibillion-dollar TV deal that cash-strapped team owner Frank McCourt had hoped would be approved in order to make payroll.
His unsettled divorce settlement and bankruptcy has cast doubt on whether McCourt will be able to retain ownership of the team. However, even if McCourt sells the team, he would still own the land where Dodger Stadium sits, leading some to wonder if the new owner might consider moving the team out of the 50-year-old stadium. Multiple media reports stated recently that MLB had spoken to AEG about the possibility of a move downtown.
When News Corp. bought the Dodgers in 1997 the company considered moving the team to a new downtown baseball stadium next to a newly renovated Coliseum in 1999. The plan along with the renovated Coliseum fell through and the team was sold to McCourt in 2003.
AEG is currently working on a deal with the city of Los Angeles for Farmers Field, a proposed $1 billion football stadium connected to a renovated convention center which would house an NFL team. Leiweke said AEG has no interest in building a baseball stadium or purchasing the Dodgers.
"It's not even an idea. It simply doesn't work," Leiweke said. "We've never thought about it. We've never been involved in conversations about it. The agreement with the city is not an option A or B. It is for a football stadium. The commitments that we have with the big conventions that will drive this town are around an events center built around a football schedule. That's the commitment we made. We've never had one conversation about a baseball stadium here and we have been singular in our mission that we're going to get a football stadium done and we are on the verge of that happening."
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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