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California lawmakers propose bill for NFL stadium

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A top California lawmaker unveiled legislation on Friday to help advance a proposal for building a new stadium in downtown Los Angeles to bring the National Football League back to the second-largest U.S. city.

Supporters of the Farmers Field stadium plan had sought the assistance of the legislature to speed its regulatory review, which some environmental and community activists criticized.

Assembly Speaker John Perez's office said in a statement that the legislation, authored by state Senator Alex Padilla, would not exempt the stadium from environmental laws but would allow for "expedited environmental reviews."

Perez and Padilla are from the Los Angeles area, which despite being the second-largest U.S. media market has been without NFL football since the mid-1990s.

The stadium plan has taken on urgency in the legislature, which ends its session next week, as it is estimated to create some 23,000 jobs.

California's 12 percent unemployment rate was the second-highest of any state in July and in Los Angeles County the jobless rate that month was worse, at 12.4 percent.

"This is an exceptional project, both in terms of the jobs that it will create, and in its groundbreaking emphasis on building the most environmentally friendly stadium in the United States," Perez said in the statement.

"After more than a decade, it's time for the NFL to return to Los Angeles, and I am excited that our city will be home to the most sustainable stadium in history, paid for without a single taxpayer dollar," Perez added.

Anschutz Company subsidiary Anschutz Entertainment Group aims to privately finance the stadium, though the project would involve Los Angeles selling $275 million in tax-exempt bonds to tear down part of its convention center to make way for the stadium.

Lease payments for use of that land, parking revenue and taxes linked to rebuilding the convention center would pay off the debt.

Under AEG's plan, an NFL football team would be playing in its 68,000-seat stadium in 2016. The stadium would be next to Staples Center, which AEG owns.

Meanwhile, Majestic Realty Co has a rival plan for a privately financed, $800 million, 75,000-seat stadium east of Los Angeles near where Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties meet.

(Editing by James Dalgleish)

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