June 12--Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has launched a campaign to woo the Lucas Museum of Cultural Arts, a legacy project of "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, stepping into what had been a two-way battle between Chicago and San Francisco for the director's private art collection.
Garcetti is offering a site in Exposition Park, the equivalent to Chicago's Museum Campus and home to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a National Historic Landmark that hosted two Olympic Games and still hosts University of Southern California football games.
"It's in South L.A. right next to USC," said Molly Fowler, a spokeswoman for Garcetti. "And in there is a number of cultural destinations for the city of L.A., including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Natural History Museum (of Los Angeles County), the (California) Science Center and the California African-American Museum."
Fowler said the indoor Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, opened in 1959, would be torn down to make way for the museum.
Garcetti sent a letter offering the Exposition Park site to Lucas and his Chicago-based wife, Mellody Hobson, on Friday, Fowler said. This week, Garcetti launched a social media campaign to build support under the hashtag #WhyLucasInLA.
According to another letter posted on Garcetti's campaign website and addressed to Hobson and Lucas, Garcetti asked Lucas to consider Los Angeles because it is "a place where its impact can be amplified like no other." The website goes on to state that Los Angeles is a global, creative and diverse hub.
Chicago has offered two parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place. And San Francisco has offered a seawall lot near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
Lucas is expected to make a decision this summer. The contest was opened up to cities other than San Francisco, where Lucas built his career and near where Lucas grew up, after the board of the Presidio, a national park on the bay, rejected Lucas' preferred site.
David Perry, of the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, said the organization will not comment on an potential sties while it is analyzing its options.
"We are grateful for everyone's enthusiasm for this project," Perry said. "Since the beginning of this process, we have indicated that several cities had expressed an interest in the possible location of the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum."
Lucas never made a film in Hollywood, choosing instead to build his special effects and creative empire in San Francisco. He later sold Lucasfilm to Disney for more than $4 billion.
San Francisco's offering is a site that the NBA'sGolden State Warriors proposed for a new arena then abandoned due to regulatory hurdles and political opposition. And the Chicago proposal has run into opposition from lakefront protection advocates.
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