What Questions to Ask if/when AEG Announces Their Plans for Downtown Stadium

As rumors continue to swirl that sports and entertainment giant, AEG, is getting close to releasing plans for a National Football League Stadium in Downtown Los Angeles, sides are already being drawn in what will surely be a contentious debate.  In such a debate, Streetblog’s role is not to take sides, but to draw attention to the transportation impacts and planning involved with the project.  To that end, here’s a preview of what is important when deciding whether or not a Downtown Football stadium will be a traffic disaster for Los Angeles.

Of course, its not just the fans that might want to ride to the game...Photo: Associated Press
Of course, its not just the fans that might want to ride to the game...Photo: Associated Press

The most important part of the transportation planning is that it’s credible.  That means that AEG and its partners should submit to a full environmental review and not try to pull a Roski and bribe the legislature and governor to exempt the stadium.  At this point in time, no NFL team has made any noise about wanting to “take their talents to the Southland,” so the year it would take to fill out a CEQA review of the project shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

A solid estimate of how many people will ride transit to the games is one of the most important parts of the environmental review.  The failed proposal for a new stadium in mid-town Manhattan was challenged in court because their transit modeling defied logic and precedent as the developers attempted to convince New Yorkers that event crowds wouldn’t destroy traffic and transit patterns.  Despite their high estimates, the developer didn’t provide a plan to encourage transit use through reduced parking or bundling transit passes in to the cost of the tickets.

How the stadium would encourage transit ridership and discourage car driving is a crucial part of their transportation plan.  The area around Staples Center and L.A. Live have car parking lots running near capacity.  Will the developer want to build a parking lot skyscraper so that every football fan that wants to drive  to the stadium can?

When the Texans come to town, these people will need a place to park their bus.  And probably some green space for their bull to graze.  Photo:##http://torotimes.com/2009/11/03/ten-tips-for-jumping-on-the-houston-texans-bandwagon/##Toro Times##
When the Texans come to town, these people will need a place to park their bus. And probably some green space for their bull to graze. Photo:##http://torotimes.com/2009/11/03/ten-tips-for-jumping-on-the-houston-texans-bandwagon/##Toro Times##

Speaking of parking, a lot of chartered buses come to NFL games.  Where are you going to put them?

Conversely, will the stadium help cover the costs of operating more trains and buses throughout the transit system to move people to and from the stadium, or is it assumed that these costs should be born by the public?  The same question should be asked of public safety officials who will be working to control snarling traffic.  It took a new law to make the Hollywood Bowl and other venues pay for their public safety officers.  And let’s not even talk about the Dodgers’ insistence that someone else pay to bring their ticket and concession buying fans to their stadium.

The transportation plan need also address the model to get people to and from the stadium when an event, be it football or a Randy Neuman concert, occur at the same time as a Clippers/Kings/Lakers game.  There will be conflicts and those conflicts will see 20,000 more people descending on the area than if a football game were happening in static.

One of the advantages of placing a stadium in a Downtown is that people can go to a game without needing a car or transit at all.  I have to admit the thought of throwing on my “Perry-72” jersey and pedaling Downtown to see a Bears game once every eight years sounds pretty appealing.  But it wouldn’t be nearly as much if I’m expected to chain my bike onto a sign or in the smoking area as Dodgers want me to.  The Downtown Stadium could be a great place for L.A. to have a San Francisco Giants style bike valet program.

There will also be people that want to walk.  A public safety and wayfinding plan to get pedestrians to and from the stadium without  being thrown into constant conflict with automobile drivers may be the most important, but oft easily overlooked portion of any stadium plan.

When AEG announces their plans for the Downtown, it will be important to look past the breathless news coverage and the “football fan v NIMBY” arguments.   We need to look beyond the headlines to see if AEG is trying to build something good for themselves and Los Angeles or if they are just green washing a coming Carmageddon.

  • Do it at the Coliseum or just f**k right off. We already have a football stadium, so use it!

  • Matt

    As much as I would prefer a renovated Coliseum and it seems a bit much to have 3 football stadiums in the LA area (Rose Bowl, Coliseum and this one), I think this is a good plan. It will get great transit usage, especially if it is marketed as such as it should be (signage to trains, train info on tickets and so forth). Plus it would bring a whole new life to the Convention Center and have the ability for indoor events like the Final Four that could never happen anywhere else. The Coliseum is so far behind modern NFL stadiums, it would essentially have to be destroyed and then rebuilt and since USC now controls the lease that isn’t going to happen.

  • kellyp

    From what I have read it is going to be an extension of the current convention center. The new building can then be converted to host conventions, football, tractor pulls or whatever. They are planning for 50 events a year only 8 of which would be NFL games.

  • Rich

    I live near 7th and Flower and support the stadium, mostly for what the new convention space would mean for the DTLA businesses and hotels that rely on the events put on at Staples and LA Live. I think AEG’s proved to be proactive in planning events. Plus the Expo Line will be opening soon, and the full line to Santa Monica should open around the same time the stadium is finished, so that’s another plus.

  • Erik G.

    Might help speed up the construction of the downtown connector.

    Better there than at the intersection of the 57 and the 60, which though it has rail access, is on the Metrolink Riverside Line which is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish from the L.A. Metro Blue Line.

  • Stadium = parking.

    Even if they DO host 50 events a year, thats still 300 days where the parking lot is sitting there, and is drawing commuters instead of the train

  • The parking lots around Staples don’t pull cars in unless there is an event taking place. They just … sit there.

    Whatever AEG is thinking of doing with parking, they (and the city), should seriously re-think their approach to this site. Yes, suburban families will haul their tractor trailers into downtown to go to your event – but rail, bus, and bicycle access should be a big part of how people get to the stadium. We are entering an era of austerity, it would be wise to plan for fans that will have cash to spend on things other than parking spots and gasoline.

  • Erik G.

    I’ll believe this when I see it. Obviously the NFL has an interest in being back in L.A., but the owners of the teams have an interest in keeping L.A. “NFL-free” so that they can threaten their pissant little backwater locales with a move to “the big media market” of Los Angeles. Look at what Baseball lost when St. Petersburg and later Washington, D.C. finally got a team; the White Sox and the Mariners, etc. can’t threaten to move there anymore. Before that, Denver was the destination-both the A’s and the Giant were about to open ticket booths at Mile High Stadium.

    Southern California has an NFL team, it plays in eastern San Diego, and those who are desperate to shell out the big $$$ to actually see a game in person can go there quite easily either by car or by train/light-rail.

    TV pro football fans in greater L.A. should relish in not being “blacked-out” and able to watch pretty much every game they want on Sundays. Besides, there are a lot more things to do here on an Autumn afternoon than sit in a football stadium. Both the Raiders and the Rams proved that.

  • @Matt,

    LA already has 3 football stadiums. This will be the 4th.

    1. Coliseum
    2. Rose Bowl
    3. Home Depot Center

  • Gorgon S

    @bzcat,

    That’s why the Industry stadium is the best idea – it’s located further to the east so it wouldn’t compete directly with these other venues for “things to do nearby.” It fills the gap for people who live in the Inland Empire (Riverside, San Bernardino, etc). It’s right in the middle of LA, Orange County, and the Inland Empire so everyone can still make it to the game within reasonable driving distance. The other stadiums however are all clustered around the same place in the old part of LA. Roski’s Industry stadium would be a nice focal point for people coming from all directions, something which none of the other stadiums can claim.

  • @Gorgon

    Except City of Industry is no where near the population center. It may be a geographic center of sorts if you include Inland Empire’s vast sprawl but Downtown LA is still more of the center if your “center” is population weighted. In addition, the City of Industry stadium site has no public transportation infrastructure. We are going backwards if we are still building these type of venue with no mass transit links. The City of Industry site is extremely inaccessible despite nearby freeways, just like Dodger Stadium and Rose Bowl. The last thing LA needs is more sprawl inducing mega developments like putting a giant football stadium out in the suburbs.

  • Gorgon S

    @bzcat The population center has changed in the past 30 years. The center is no longer “downtown LA” when you factor in the growth in Orange County, East LA, and the Inland Empire. There is no reason to create a bigger traffic jam in old downtown and put more strain on the freeways that were never designed to handle that many cars. The train will only serve a small number of fans because the train doesn’t connect conveniently close to everyone’s home. The reality is that the vast majority of people will drive to the stadium wherever it is, and the old downtown is the worst possible place to attract tens of thousands more cars on game day.

  • @Gorgon S You obviously don’t live anywhere near downtown to understand it’s Dynamics. Downtown is making a comeback as a population destination. Staples, USC, LA Live, Dodger Stadium all within a few miles of each other.

    Certainly it is not the worst place to attract people compared with City of Industry.

  • The City of Industry is a good location if you consider that there are 4.2 million people in the Inland Empire that have no pro team AT ALL. They don’t even have major college sports, so in some aspects they are worse off for their sport viewing options than New Jersey, for which the IE is often compared to. As part of the EIR, they will build a platform and spur track for the Metrolink Riverside Line to stop on game day, similar to the trains run for the California Speedway.

    Unlike Dodger Stadium or the Rose Bowl, Roski is planning on building a lifestyle center adjacent which will take away some of the post-game traffic, and there are existing shopping centers within walking distance to the north and the south. Construction of the City of Industry stadium would not disrupt major traffic flows in the region. Most of the concrete needed could come from the rock plants in Irwindale and the Inland Empire without impacting central city freeways. Meanwhile, the construction of a downtown stadium would cause years of traffic chaos and reroutes as roads are closed, construction trucks come in from throughout the area, etc. I agree with the poll that says that Southern California needs a NFL team like I need an enema, but if you are going to put a team, the Industry location has more going for it than the inevitable cluster that will happen when Downtown hosts Monday Night Football, the Dodgers, and the Kings all on one evening.

  • bzcat, you will never see american football at the home depot center.

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