L.A. Stadium Battle, a New Front in Auto-Driven Sprawl and Transit Oriented Density

"People don't take mass transit to football games." But mascots? That's a different story.

In the ongoing war between Ed Roski and Majestic Realty versus Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) over whether the National Football League should move a team to the sprawling suburbs of the City of Industry or Downtown Los Angeles a new question has arisen: “will NFL fans ride transit to a football game?”  Blogdowntown quotes a Majestic executive defending and promoting the auto-sprawl bonafides of the City of Industry at a panel discussion last week:

At a Thursday panel organized by the Pat Brown Institute, Majestic’s John Semcken talked about growing up in New York and taking the train to Yankees games. He doesn’t see the same happening for football.

“I think a football stadium is a different animal,” he said. “People don’t take mass transit to football games.”

The location of Majestic’s proposed stadium in the City of Industry is “the single biggest asset in our project,” Semcken said. The site is within a one-hour drive of 15.5 million people in a four-county region.

It’s true that people don’t take mass transit to games that are located in the suburbs, surrounded by gigantic parking lots with limited mass transit options.  But stadiums located near to the urban core of major cities, think Soldier Field in Chicago, have a rich history of multiple transit options and fans riding the rail and buses to the stadium.  Even suburban stadiums are embracing transit as a way to get people to come to their games, something that Majestic Realty surely realizes as they’ve already announced that their planning for increased Metrolink service to a station adjacent to the proposed stadium in Industry.

But there are still some major transportation challenges that need to be addressed for the proposed Farmers Field in the Downtown.  Indeed, a working transportation plan for the stadium could be the biggest challenge facing AEG and will attract the lion’s share of attention during the public process rivaled only by the question of whether or not the stadium is receiving a public subsidy.  The city’s blue ribbon commission, one of at least three government bodies who are reviewing the stadium, is already looking at the issue the wrong way by asking people “what steps can be taken to improve traffic around the LA Live-Staples Center complex.”

If it’s ideas on how to make transportation for the events center and improve public confidence that they’re looking for, Streetsblog has plenty of them.  Our suggestions can be found after the jump.  Leave yours in the comments section.

1) Complete a real traffic study, and have the study be peer reviewed by an independent traffic consultant.  Heck, let one of the few stadium skeptics pick the traffic firm that completes the review.  Much of the opposition that exists to a Downtown stadium would evaporate if people had confidence that it’s not going to create a network of impassable gridlocked streets everytime there’s an event, football game or otherwise, at Farmers Field.

2) Encourage people to “take the train to the game.”  There’s a lot more to promoting transit than sending out a press release announcing that someone else is paying for your fans to ride to your event center for free.  Assuming that a future NFL team is serious about creating a pro-transit environment, a real marketing campaign is needed.  And by “marketing campaign,” we don’t mean that the owner of the team should make statements belittling transit and sending executives to beg for other people to spend money for people to come to their event.

And don’t stop at marketing, make it easy for people to buy a ticket by offering transit tickets, and maps, when selling tickets to the game or event.  NASCAR already offers tickets at the point of sale, and has actually been a progressive leader in having ticket buyers also ride transit.

Transit also provides a solution to the “Tailgate problem.”  Work with the Coliseum Authority to allow people to tailgate in the Coliseum Parking lot and take Expo Service directly to Farmers Field.

3) Let’s see some renderings of what a “walkable stadium” looks like.  AEG has claimed that an advantage to its event center over the proposed stadium in Industry is that by locating it in a dense urban core, it will be a place that people can walk to.  If that’s the case, then planners should let us see what the plans are to improve pedestrian access to the Farmers Field area.

Will the streets feeding in to the stadium resemble the progressive designs we’ve seen through the MyFigueroa project, or will it resemble the traffic sewer we know from the current Figueroa configuration?  It’s hard to say, because the renderings that have been made public thus far are only of the stadium, and show nothing of the urban environment that AEG says makes the sight so attractive.  In short, don’t just tell everyone that people will walk to the event center, show us what you’re going to do to make that a pleasant and safe trip.

4) When looking for an example of how to provide access for bicyclists to Farmers Field, AEG and their planners should look north to Dodger Stadium, and keep looking another 500 miles or so to the San Francisco Giants who’s bike valet system is heralded as the best in the country for a major event center.  In addition, by providing a first class bike valet system, AEG has a chance to give back to the community.  Let the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, which has been providing bike valet around the city and county, handle the valet for Farmers Field events.

  • Sam Morrissey

    Damien, I think it’s Anschutz Entertainment Group, not Auschwitz.

  • ml

    An NFL team plays 8 home games a year. ON SUNDAYS. It’s a completely insignificant travel market. This discussion is a tad bit preposterous.

  • Anonymous

    Incorrect – AEG is saying that this would be an “events center” with many large events including soccer, dirt bike racing, larger conventions, and so on. It would have closer to 50 events per year, not just 8 home games. I don’t know why some people keep saying there would be only 8 events when AEG is saying there will be much more than that. Coinsider the transport options for all 50.

  • Anonymous

    While studying the train ridership, planners should not compare LA with cities such as New York City or Chicago where there are train stations everywhere close to people’s homes. Los Angeles is unique in that our train system is so poorly developed, most football fans won’t be able to take the train even if they wanted to. If it’s a 1 hour bus ride just to get to the train station, that fan is going to put the drink cooler in the trunk of the car and end up driving instead.

  • Matt

    That isn’t really true any longer. Metrolink stations are just about everywhere and can be utilized more on Sundays in the future. Also, a football stadium won’t be ready until 2015 at the earliest. By then, even the major part of the city with no rail (the Westside) will have a full Expo Line all the way to the sea.

  • Eric B

    Damien, thank you for this very reasonable list of requests. It’s something that pro- and anti-stadium folks alike can rally around and greatly contributes to the discussion of event-related transportation issues. I sincerely hope the AEG folks are listening. If they do this right, then livable streets advocates (which overlaps with downtown boosters) can be their greatest allies. If they alienate us, it may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

  • Anonymous

    In response to Matt’s comment, keep dreaming. Let’s use a concrete example and you’ll see why people are going to drive rather than taking the train. Let’s pick a spot that’s right in the middle of the larger metro population center – the city of La Habra. If the La Habra football fan wanted to take the train, first they would have to walk 30 min to the bus stop, then take bus 285 for 27 min, then transfer to bus 282 for 23 min, then walk 6 min to El Monte station, then take metro line 910 for 24 min, then take bus 81 for 11 min to the stadium. The one-way trip is 2.5 hours, so the fan would spend 5 hours of travel to make the round-trip. Now imagine that with a picnic cooler in one hand, and a blanket in the other hand, etc. It would be an arduous journey. That fan is going to drive! That fan is going to battle the traffic jam rather than doing all of those bus transfers and dealing with hurting arms carrying the basic tailgating supplies in the little bus aisles.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for starting this discussion Damien. It’s the most important issue — as far as location is concerned — and it’s getting very little attention.

  • People respond to markets. Most people don’t take transit to football games if parking is $10, but they do if parking is $60.

    This is why the public should be wary of plans for additional parking. Subsidized parking = more traffic = more neighborhood impacts and less opportunity for walking-oriented neighborhood activity in South Park.

  • Matt

    You don’t have much knowledge of the LA Metro system and I certainly hope you never give anyone directions on how to get somewhere on public transit. Someone in La Habra could easily drive west towards Downtown, park at the Green Line station and connect with the Blue Line and be right next to the stadium in an hour – hardly the 2.5 hour journey you mention. I am not even going to mention high speed rail, but that will make the trip to from NOrwalk in less than 20 minutes.

  • This may be the most embarrassing typo yet…

  • Dan

    ddbear is right. Once someone gets in the car that person will most likely drive all the way, not stop half way at a train station.

  • Josh

    LA could stand to remember that it lost the Raiders to Oakland, with its BART-adjacent Coliseum

  • Jass

    The development should pay mitigation fees for the amount of traffic it will cause. And to mitigate that traffic, the money should go to mass transit.

    1) A $4 fee to every event ticket sold. Allows for complementary rides on local/bus rail (just show event ticket) and funds ongoing service improvements (better headways on Sundays and such)
    2) A $100 million fee at start of construction to upgrade all the train lines adjacent to the stadium (Pico)
    3) A $5 flat tax on all parking (per space) within 1/2 a mile of the center on days events are held (and $2.50 for parking from 1/2-1 mile). Fee goes to improve walking/bike connections
    4) A 10% special sales tax on all merchandise and concessions sold in the stadium to pay for traffic control / sidewalk improvements

  • Jass

    The assumption here is:
    “I live in an inconvenient place, thus everyone lives in an inconvenient place”

    Protip: People live adjacent to the metro line. The routings were picked for a reason.
    Protip 2: People live near train stations, and union station is very close to downtown.

  • Jass

    Dan, if parking is $75 a spot (like Dallas) less people will drive, when the alternative is $1.50.

  • J L

    I take transit to Baltimore Ravens games. Th light rail is full of football people on game day. Same is true for Orioles games.

  • Marc Socol

    The use of the phrase “sprawling suburbs” in the first sentence conjures up this picture of Industry being out in some undeveloped agricultural land somewhere in the middle of nowhere, where development is encroaching upon it.. However that’s NOT the case. Industry is right in the MIDDLE of Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Inland Empire. It’s about 50 years too late for anyone to call this suburban sprawl. This area is in fact a good central point to minimize everyone’s commute distance.

  • Anonymous

    Qualcomm stadium in SD has a very efficient mass transit option, and it is constantly utilized for games.

  • Sgfranks

    For many years lots of fans of the Cleveland Browns have ridden to and from the stadium on the Shaker Rapid.

  • Matt

    Even in Chicago, there is not a train station in front of everyone’s house. In the suburbs, people often have to drive to a Metra station. Sure not everyone will take transit to a game in Los Angeles, but if gas prices continue to rise and parking is expensive, there is more of an incentive to do so. The idea that a trip from La Habra to Downtown on public transit takes 2.5 hours is pure silliness. Orange County is hardly the center of Southern California. People in Riverside and the Inland Empire have little disposable income and liekly won’t be heavy patrons of this type of facility

  • Marc Socol

    Matt wrote: “People in Riverside and the Inland Empire have little disposable income and liekly won’t be heavy patrons of this type of facility.”

    Oh really? So if the stadium is built in the center of the population in Industry, you’re saying that people living in the Inland Empire won’t be able to afford to go to the game?

    Matt, first of all, are you 13 years old to think that way? Secondly, don’t post your last name because there will be plenty of people in the Inland Empire who would be offended by your aura of opulence.

  • Marc Socol

    I read through a lot of comments and it becomes clearer and clearer that this AEG / Majestic stadium battle is really battle between the LA West side versus the larger population living in East LA, OC, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. Some people just haven’t psychologically accepted yet that downtown LA is no longer the center of the larger metro region. The middle is near Industry.

  • ML

    Who cares? Because football stadiums only fill up 8 or 10 times a year, they are not nearly as helpful to a neighborhood as baseball. So you might as well put them in someplace undesirable.

  • The dude abides

    Or maybe this Los Angeles team should be for Angelino’s and you OCers can get your own team. Since when is the entire so cal region Los Angeles?

    You have the ducks and soon maybe an NBA franchise, so just go find your own damn team and put it where you want.

  • Matt

    Marc, there are millions of people are closer to Downtown rather than Industry. You are talking about the entire South Bay, Long Beach, the entire San Fernando Valley including Burbank, Glendale and even parts of the San Gabriel Valley like Pasadena. Also, all of Ventura County as well as Santa Clarita and the entire Antelope Valley. That is a lot more than just West LA. Also, the stadium needs to be in an area that high income people and businesses will more easily go to. Sorry that is just a reality, because this is what makes this an attractive deal for the private venture building the stadium as the NFL knows this as well (which is why they have shown little to no interest in Industry) even though it has been shovel ready for years. If everything makes sense to be in Industry as the center of SoCal, why aren’t the businesses that rent the highrises in Downtown LA moving out there? Why does Ontario Airport struggle to get less than 10% of the ridership of LAX?

  • Anonymous

    Couldn’t agree more. Besides, if I was the owner of the team, I wouldn’t want the fans that would be going to the games if the stadium was built in downtown Los Angeles. The Coliseum was obviously filled with decent people (please, please, catch the sarcasm there). I would be seriously concerned with the demographic makeup of my fanbase. The Dodgers, as evidenced by the recent beating of a Giants fan in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, are quickly understanding this problem. I’ve been a Dodger fan my entire life, but it’s the thugged out Latinos that increasingly make me want to watch games on TV instead of at the stadium. And yes, many of those thugged out Latinos are the exact type of fan (i.e., Raider fans) that I would not want in my stadium. It’s not about being racist. It’s about accepting reality. I’d rather have east LA County, IE, and OC folks at the games than any of the people downtown (or near downtown).

  • Anonymous

    Couldn’t agree more. Besides, if I was the owner of the team, I wouldn’t want the fans that would be going to the games if the stadium was built in downtown Los Angeles. The Coliseum was obviously filled with decent people (please, please, catch the sarcasm there). I would be seriously concerned with the demographic makeup of my fanbase. The Dodgers, as evidenced by the recent beating of a Giants fan in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, are quickly understanding this problem. I’ve been a Dodger fan my entire life, but it’s the thugged out Latinos that increasingly make me want to watch games on TV instead of at the stadium. And yes, many of those thugged out Latinos are the exact type of fan (i.e., Raider fans) that I would not want in my stadium. It’s not about being racist. It’s about accepting reality. I’d rather have east LA County, IE, and OC folks at the games than any of the people downtown (or near downtown).

  • Anonymous

    Public transport (mainly rail) sucks in Los Angeles.

  • Anonymous

    Public transport (mainly rail) sucks in Los Angeles.

  • hldc1_sux

    Yeah! I agree! It is fast, relatively inexpensive, clean, environmentally friendly, and sometimes very fun. It sucks!

  • IronySmacksofMe

    LOL. Los Doyers are “helpful” to Echo Park and Elysian Valley? Yeah, those fireworks shows are awesome for all the sleeping kids in the area. The air pollution is epic! Radical asthma has transformed these sleepy homes into exciting epicenters of disease and disfunction! I want a Doyer field next to my house and small business – there are so many that are “activated” when a baseball stadium goes online. I see it every time I drive by them as fast as possible during and after games. Actually, they are a little hard to spot since all their doors are locked, the lights are off, and half of them have “for lease” signs on them.

  • FleepFleep

    That place is in the middle of f&*ing nowhere. Whittier, San Gabriel, Temple City – all of these places are old, but none of them are “Los Angeles”, none of them have mass transit as hooked up as Los Angeles.

    Come on, man. It is in sprawlandia.

  • Gold Line Ridazz

    +1 for Streetsblog Streetsie “Typo of the Year”

  • Anonymous

    Not everyone lives in a tiny apartment/condo next to a subway/light rail station. Sure Metro buses use natural gas, but you apparently haven’t noticed that Los Angeles has the worst traffic congestion in the nation. Metrolink? All their locomotives run on diesel and most trains either don’t run on weekends or run very limited schedules. Anything that runs on electric (e.g., light rail) uses electricity mostly generated either by nuclear or coal (regardless of what anyone says, nuclear power is the most efficient emissions-free method of electricity we have). Most of California’s electricity doesn’t come from extremely inefficient, and expensive, wind or solar farms.

    Relatively inexpensive? Only if you’re travelling from one end of the line to the area. That Metro can’t even implement zone-based pricing (since you won’t understand what that means you hippie retard, that means “pay more the farther you go”) exhibits the sheer lack of capability to operate a world-class metro system. They can’t even figure out line-to-line transfers. Travelling from the Red Line to the Blue Line? If you don’t have a TAP card, you’ll need two tickets.

    Sadly, all of Metro’s trains have an “America’s Best” decal on them. I question that designation as the trains are older than those of other systems, and are also covered with your typical “let me scratch my gang signs into the toilet seat” style graffiti. Besides all that, the subway is only in L.A. and you have to travel to the end of the Red Line to get to a reasonably safe area. Downtown L.A. is a dump.

    Your comment is simply baseless.

    And one more thing: hldc1 FTW!

  • Anonymous

    L.A. “lost” the Raiders because 1) the L.A. Coliseum was too big, and thus, resulted in very few sell outs, which according to the NFL’s blackout rules, led to numerous blackouts of Raider games on TV, and 2) the city of L.A. simply wasn’t going to give Al Davis a new taxpayer-funded stadium.

    It had absolutely nothing to do, as you suggest, with the Oakland Coliseum being BART-accessible.

  • Anonymous

    @FleepFleep – do you live in a downtown high rise building? You need to get out of the glass and concrete cubicle sometime and realize that downtown LA is no longer the population center. The term “sprawl” is not applicable to a place like Industry that’s right smack dab in the middle of where everyone lives!

  • Jimr

    It’s just dumb to not build any sort of arena/stadium/convention center near a major transit hub. About 15-20% of Eagles fans take the subway to home games. I’ve taken the Metro to a Redskins game before. I was hardly alone and the station is a hike from FedEx Field. Baltimore, Cleveland, Seattle, Charlotte, Chicago, St. Louis, etc – when given the opportunity, people take the train to the game. There isn’t a big culture of taking the train for Jets and Giants games because the rail line to the stadium just opened last year. The Devils actually moved out of the Meadowlands to downtown Newark, NJ (of all places) to be closer to the main train station there. The Red Bulls built their new stadium across the street from the PATH station. The Nets were/are trying to move to an arena on top of Atlantic Yards (the terminus for Long Island Railroad).

  • Anonymous

    So far AEG has not been addressing the livable streets advocates. I want downtown LA to have a vibrant, walkable city scene. But AEG is ignoring the extra steps it would take to make the stadium compatible with this environment. It’s not in the interest of livable streets advocates to have this stadium built.

  • Jimr

    Really? anything that runs on electricity uses a lot less energy than a similar internal combustion engine. A train (diesel or not) with 1200 people on it uses a lot less energy than 400 cars. A bus with 50 people on it uses less fuel than those people driving in 15 cars.

  • Observer

    LA public transport and sprawl is in a poor state mostly because the collective communities of the region historically haven’t put enough pressure on the government for improved services, for various reasons. That is changing but there is a lot of catchup to do. It is not commendable to be known as a worldwide example of what not to do regarding public transport planning.

    The fact that a major trip generator (stadium) is even being considered without appropriate access to public transport, let alone a portion of the public supporting it, is laughable in the 21st century. I hope LA has a chance to evolve with the rest of the world.

  • Christof Spieler

    Another place with heavy transit use to football games: Houston. Most of the people taking the train to the game are actually tasking their cars and parking elsewhere along the rail line, but that does a lot to help out traffic around the stadium. The rail line is also very useful to out-of-towners coming in for an event (like the Final Four this weekend): they can stay at a hotel Downtown or in the Medical Center and ride the train to the game.

  • Jack

    The stadium in Industry is required to provide 20% transit and was required to be within 1/2 mile of train station. The questions is not if transit is important because it is, the problem is how do those fans that live in YOrba Linda, Beverly HIlls, Santa MOnica, Newport Beach, REdlands, Rancho Cucamunga and other cities that dont have rail access get to the game? Trafficd stopped on Freeways is the biggest polutter in the state!

  • Satisfied

    @ddbear: How long did it take you to come up with your La Habra example… and still get it wrong?

    The point is not whether La Habra fan can take public transit to the game. The point is whether a large number of fans can, in fact, take transit, which will, in fact, mitigate the traffic issues that the chicken littles keep chirping about.

    Planting a football stadium in the middle of Industry is backwards urban planning, echoing the 1950’s post-war mentality that led to the downfall of one of America’s best rail systems.

  • Wanderer

    Metro shows over 41,000 parking spaces in its Park and Ride lots. Most of these are typically empty on Sunday when pro football games are played. Obviously not all of them would be used to access the football stadium, but this number is quite similar to the number of parking spaces on the BART system that serves the Oakland Coliseum, where the Raiders play.

    BART trains serve 43 stations other than Coliseum. Metrorail and the Orange Line serves 83 other stations, before you even count Metrolink.

    It defies logic that with high-priced parking and inevitably horrible traffic on the 110, the 10 and probably other freeways, every football fan would demand to drive to a Downtown LA stadium.

  • Marc Socol

    @Satisfied, you fail to realize that Industry is right in the middle of the population center. If 20 million people are surrounding that spot, in the dead center of such a huge population, then that’s the perfect place to put a stadium where it would be accessible to everyone.

  • Alex Brideau III

    There hasn’t been as much stadium talk on StreetsblogLA recently. Does anyone know what’s the deal with potential transit access for the proposed Carson stadium site?


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