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Private donors help pay for Lakers parade

June 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Final plans are being put in place for Wednesday's Lakers victory parade and rally, as private donors step up to help the city pay for the parade.The parade will start at 11 a.m. at the Staples Center, run along Figueroa and will end at the L.A. Coliseum.

The parade and rally are expected to cost $2 million, and after critics argued taxpayers should not have to foot the bill, the city will not have to pay any money for the celebration.

The Lakers and Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Staples Center, will reportedly put in $1 million, and the city's share will be paid through private donations.

The city will supply police and traffic control, and it will rent the Coliseum, which is a state park.

A news conference was held Tuesday afternoon at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, LAPD Chief William Bratton, Lakers guard Derek Fisher to update parade details.

Mayor Villaraigosa said that private donors gave $850,000 of nearly $1 million in city costs for Wednesday's parade and rally.

"We intend to do everything we can to minimize the cost to the city," said Mayor Villaraigosa.

Villaraigosa identified the private donors as Casey and Laura Wasserman, Jerry and Margie Perenchio, Haim and Cheryl Saban, Eli and Edythe Broad, Joe and Sharon Hernandez of Melissa's Fruits and Vegetables, Ed and Gayle Roski and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in Highland, Calif.

Villaraigosa said the Lakers generate an annual economic benefit of about $150 million to the city of Los Angeles. He claimed the parade will generate an estimated $15 million to the local economy, including souvenir sales.

The L.A. City Council had a motion introduced on Wednesday to declare the parade and rally a special event, which means the city will be reimbursed for all fees and costs associated with event. The council will vote again next week after the costs are tallied.

"It might not be the wisest use of money, but we can all use a little relief right now," said local resident Rachel Zimmerman.

Even before the Lakers won their 15th NBA title on Sunday in Orlando, the debate had already begun on whether there should be a parade, and if the city could even afford a parade with its massive budget deficit.

"Talk to McDonald's, talk to Coca Cola, somebody's gotta be interested in attaching their name to this. I just can't imagine that the taxpayers need to be the one doing it," said local resident Richard Gillam.

Gates at the Coliseum will open at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday for the rally. Admission is free, and fans are encouraged to get there early.

If you can't make it, you can watch the parade live on ABC7 or on ABC7.com.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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