Saturday, June 21, 2008

The NFL and Other Fairy Tales

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon
And a guy with dough
Says believe it, it's so
The NFL will he here soon
- A fairy tale

BILLIONAIRE developer Ed Roski has unveiled plans to build a stadium right here in our very own San Gabriel Valley aimed at luring the National Football League back to Los Angeles, where it has been absent since 1994.

That's great news. It was also great news when similar plans were announced for the Rose Bowl, Hollywood Park, Dodger Stadium, the city of Commerce and various other schemes.

"I think this is important for Los Angeles, for the fabric of the city," said Roski, who along with Philip Anschutz built Staples Center. "The city has done real well without the NFL, and the NFL has done real well without the city. But I think it's important to have a professional football team in Los Angeles."

Roski controls the land necessary to build the stadium and already has a certified environmental impact report for the site, according to published reports.

The price tag: $800 million or so, which is cheap compared with other stadia being built these days.

Of course, Ed isn't going to pay the entire bill. He wants the NFL to cough up a $150-million loan and the promise of at least one Super Bowl.

And, typical of these exercises, he's already suffered a setback when opponents led by Los Angeles County supervisors managed to block an effort by the city of Industry to get millions of dollars in tax subsidies that could help lure a team to the area.

But Ed is soldiering on. Sort of.

After announcing his stadium plans, he told the editorial board of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that it hinges on his ability to lure a team to town. If not, the stadium becomes a shopping center. Did you hear that, Rick Caruso?

For its part, the NFL has said in no uncertain terms that they find the proposal "an interesting possibility" which is what you'd tell a door-to-door salesman to get him off your stoop.

At the moment, the league is focused on working out its differences with the players union, improving its revenue-sharing system between clubs, and trying to get someone to watch the league-owned NFL Network.

I'm betting Roski is unwilling to wait in that line for very long.

In the meantime, I bet the folks at the Rose Bowl, which is short on tenants and cash, aren't particularly enthusiastic about a state-of-the art stadium a few off-ramps away.
Stay tuned.

Tim Russert would be embarrassed by the amount of print and air time his death has consumed.

A blue-collar guy from Buffalo, N.Y., who rose to become Washington bureau chief for NBC and the host of "Meet the Press," he earned a reputation as a tenacious but fair interviewer, one who earned respect and admiration from all sides of the political spectrum.

But four days after his death at the age of 58, Russert was still the lead story on NBC and some of its affiliates, even as much of Iowa reeled from flooding so severe that the damage is being counted in the billions of dollars.

As influential as Russert was, he remained a self-effacing guy who loved his family, his job and the Buffalo Bills in no particular order.

Now, he is being elevated by some to the pantheon of American heroes. One tribute characterized his passing as "the most noteworthy and untimely `public' death in the past 20 years."

Tim Russert was a newsman. He was not the story. He was not the president nor the pope. As a journalist, he was not Edward R. Murrow. He was not Ernie Pyle nor even Walter Cronkite.

And being "tough but fair" isn't a unique talent. It's required of anyone who enters the journalism profession, although some sadly fall woefully short.

The outpouring of emotion over Russert's death will undoubtedly exceed anything Bill O'Reilly or Keith Olbermann will receive.

But if you want to trivialize the man, continue covering his passing like the death of Anna Nicole Smith.

May Tim Russert rest in peace.

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