Plans by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) for a billion-dollar, music-driven development in the footprint of L.A.'s Staples Center will create a West Coast equivalent of Times Square, according to R

Plans by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) for a billion-dollar, music-driven development in the footprint of L.A.'s Staples Center will create a West Coast equivalent of Times Square, according to Randy Phillips, CEO of AEG Live, the company's live-entertainment arm.

The plan unveiled by AEG, which developed and owns the 20,000-seat Staples Center, includes several new concert venues, along with retail and restaurants, a theater multiplex, hotels, broadcast facilities, corporate offices and condominiums.

The sports and entertainment district will be developed over an eight- to 10-year period, with construction commencing on the first phase by the end of 2004 or early 2005.

As part of the plan, AEG announced a multifaceted naming-rights deal with mobile communications giant Nokia. Three key components of the plan will be the 7,400-seat Nokia Theatre, the 40,000-square-foot Nokia Plaza, and the 2,400-seat Club Nokia.

In a related deal, Phillips says NextStage, AEG Live's 6,333-seat theater in Grand Prairie, Texas, will now be known as the Nokia Theatre at Grand Prairie.

Sources say the deal will also extend to a 2,100-seat theater project at 1515 Broadway in Times Square, set to open in the spring of 2005.

Other facets of the L.A. development include an ESPN Zone sportsbar/restaurant and a large office tower hosting the corporate offices of Lawry's foods. A 1,200-room hotel will feature convention and business facilities adjacent to the L.A. Convention Center, and there are also plans for a 300-room high-end hotel.

Lewis Wolff will develop the hotels in partnership with Apollo Advisors and AEG; AEG says none of the city's general fund will be used to finance the hotel development.

In related news from AEG, the company also has plans for a new 20,000-seat arena in London, as well as a 2,000-seat theater and casino complex there, all surrounding the city's Millennium Dome.

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