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Los Angeles-area city approves plans for NFL stadium

LOS ANGELES -- Council members in the city of Industry on Thursday unanimously approved a proposal for a professional football stadium intended to lure a team back to the Los Angeles area.

The vote helped clear the way for developers of the $800 million venue to begin talks with NFL teams about a possible move to the industrial and warehousing city 15 miles east of Los Angeles.

Majestic Real Estate Co. managing partner John Semcken said the company would begin shopping for a team on April 1, the deadline for opponents of the project to file a lawsuit.

At least eight franchises, including the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings, have been identified as possible targets for relocation, he said, and developers are confident the NFL would approve a move.

"They understand the stadium, they understand the economic opportunity," Semcken said. "All they want is certainty. They want to make sure our stadium is getting built."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league was monitoring potential stadium developments in the Los Angeles area, but he declined to comment on specific sites.

"We would like to return to the area but only under circumstances that would benefit both the community and the NFL," he said.

Majestic intends to pay for the stadium with private funds and start construction as soon as a team has committed to playing there.

The neighboring cities of Walnut and Diamond Bar, fearing traffic-clogged streets and rowdy fan behavior, have threatened lawsuits to stop the project.

Walnut Councilman Joaquin Lim said officials in his city likely would decide whether to file a lawsuit on Wednesday, after Industry had filed stadium documents with the county.

Two Walnut council members were targeted with recall papers this month by critics who said they hadn't opposed the stadium strongly enough.

Diamond Bar City Manager Jim DeStefano didn't return a call seeking comment.

Semcken said Walnut officials have refused to meet with Majestic representatives. The company had been negotiating with Diamond Bar officials over paying to widen streets and hire additional security guards to ease concerns in that city, Semcken said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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