No Need To Mourn The Loss Of LA’s Downtown Football Stadium

Some local officials in Los Angeles may be sad that developer AEG is abandoning its dream of a downtown football field.  The future Farmers Field was supposed to solidify the emergence of downtown Los Angeles as a destination and boost ridership on game days from the adjacent rail lines.

Public officials were very supportive.  State lawmakers gave AEG a pass on environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (technically AEG received an accelerated judicial process with agreed-upon, stringent mitigation measures).

From a transit perspective, the news isn’t great.  The two other football stadium options in Los Angeles are fairly far out there, with one in Carson and another in Inglewood.  These locations are not nearly as centrally located as Farmers Field would have been in terms of rail service and walkability.

Farmers Field, a true field of dreams (as in, only in your dreams)

Farmers Field, a true field of dreams (as in, only in your dreams)

But ultimately this may be a bullet dodged for Los Angeles.  Football fields are generally a waste of valuable downtown real estate.  There are only eight home games a year in the National Football League, and maybe two pre-season games.  10 games out of 365 days?  That’s a waste of space for the vast majority of the year.

Sure, the venue can also host soccer games, concerts and maybe some giant outdoor conventions, like if the Pope ever visits.  But most of the time it would be idle.

If you’re going to build a sports stadium downtown, it really should be for baseball.  You get 81 home games a year with baseball, which means a lot of days and nights with thousands of pedestrians streaming in and out of local shops.  Baseball also attracts a more mellow crowd than football, in my experience, so you don’t have the same “drunken brawl” factor (notwithstanding some recent high-profile incidents of baseball fan rage).

Hopefully AEG will find a much better use for that huge parcel downtown.  Studies seem to support the idea that more housing, office and retail gives you a better bang for your buck, in terms of economic development and ridership.

In the end, downtown LA will probably come out farther ahead without Farmers Field.


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