- Associated Press - Monday, October 11, 2010

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Developers of a new NFL stadium on a hilly strip of land east of Los Angeles are sketching out plans for a second high-profile use for the venue: World Cup soccer.

Architects for Majestic Realty Co. said Monday they were tweaking the design of the stadium to incorporate field measurements and bleacher configurations based on guidelines from World Cup organizer FIFA, which wants a width of 68 meters (75 yards).

The news came amid possible competition from sports and entertainment powerhouse AEG, which is deciding whether to build a stadium in downtown Los Angeles to lure an NFL franchise.

Dan Meis, principal stadium architect for Majestic, said he can adjust his plans further to include additional guidelines FIFA may release ahead of the 2018 and 2022 games that are being sought by the United States.

“Because we’re building a new stadium, we could incorporate anything FIFA could want,” said Meis, who also designed Staples Center in Los Angeles, Manchester Evening News Arena and Japan’s Saitama Super Arena.

Los Angeles is among the 18 U.S. cities proposed as sites if FIFA’s executive committee votes on Dec. 2 to give the 2018 or 2022 tournament to the United States.

The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, site of the 1994 final, is among the proposed venues, and U.S. bidders say there is plenty of time to consider new stadiums in they are built in Los Angeles or the San Francisco area.

Majestic’s plan could improve the odds of the U.S. landing the games because the popularity of soccer in Southern California would make its stadiums major World Cup sites, said David Carter, a sports marketing professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

“It certainly couldn’t hurt based on the quality and the magnitude of the venues that are already in play, and to add to it an impressive Southern California venue, that would help,” he said.

Carter, however, said the revamped plans wouldn’t necessarily give Majestic, primarily a developer of industrial projects, an advantage over AEG, which also would likely design a downtown stadium with the World Cup in mind.

The USA Bid Committee for the World Cup includes AEG owner Philip Anschutz, who also owns the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team and co-founded Major League Soccer in the United States, and AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke.

Also on the committee is sports management mogul Casey Wasserman, who was named as a possible investor in AEG’s plan.

Messages seeking comment from AEG, FIFA and the USA Bid Committee were not immediately returned.

John Semcken, Majestic vice president in charge of the stadium effort, stressed the project in the city of Industry, was approved and ready to go.

“It will have all the amenities necessary to create the ultimate fan experience for the NFL and soccer,” he said in a statement, declining further comment.

Majestic has the necessary approvals to build its 75,000-seat stadium about 15 miles east of Los Angeles but has said it will not begin construction until it secures a team.

AEG officials have not released a formal proposal but have mentioned the possibility of an NFL stadium in public remarks.

The two companies collaborated in the late 1990s on the development of Staples Center.

Meis said Majestic chief Ed Roski tapped him several years ago to design the NFL stadium in Industry then asked him to optimize the design for use as a possible World Cup arena about eight months ago, when the U.S. bid was gaining momentum.

The architect said the primary change would involve a seating configuration that allows spectators to see more of the field than currently possible in NFL stadiums modified for international soccer matches.

Meis said Majestic’s difficulty in securing an NFL team during a year when the league was preoccupied with labor negotiations was partly a blessing, since it gave him the chance to adjust his design.

“It’s been a bit of a luxury,” he said. “It gave us time to think about it.”

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