At this very moment, Los Angeles has no professional football team and hasn’t since the Raiders and Rams both left in 1995. No team in the NFL has publicly acknowledged that they would consider moving here, although there are rumors. Yet, there are two ambitious projects competing to be the home of a future Los Angeles football team, and it turns out we may get a team sooner than we expected.
The two plans (neither are under construction) each put the stadium in fundamentally different places. Anschutz Entertainment Group is proposing Farmers Field, which would be located in downtown Los Angeles directly adjacent to Staples Center and L.A. Live. Meanwhile, Edward Roski, billionaire head of Majestic Realty and former business partner of AEG, commissioned plans for a professional football stadium named Grand Crossing in the city of Industry, twenty-two miles east of downtown. According to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, (http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/explorer?ref=censusbureau), the median income in the downtown project’s site’s Census tract is $18,500 annually, as opposed to $46,827 in Industry. The County Federation of Labor endorsed both proposals, but the Independent Cities Association’s recent decision to switch endorsements from Roski’s project to Farmers Field seemed to tip the scales in favor of AEG. The Grand Crossing website still lists the ICA as an endorser.
AEG’s downtown project has demonstrated itself a more viable option for a Los Angeles stadium. Incorporating a revamped Convention Center in its design, the AEG plan takes the opportunity to better other, existing buildings that surround it. It is projected to hire between twenty- and thirty-thousand people (around half are rumored to be temporary) and AEG has agreed to make all of those jobs at least living wage or union. However, critics have pointed out that any football team could divert money from other local businesses.
The Grand Crossing project is innovative in that its design is to dig a hole into a large hill and build a stadium inside of it. This is supposed to reduce construction costs and the amount of steel necessary for support. The Grand Crossing website also says that one half of the buildings’ power will come from solar energy. To give some perspective, the newest stadium in the NFL, Dallas Cowboys’ Stadium, uses about the same amount of energy every year as the entire city of Santa Monica, according to Electronic Engineering Times (http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-blogs/green-supplyline-blog/4030352/Cowboys-new-stadium-a-reminder-of-how-to-waste-energy). Detailed drawings of the proposed Grand Crossing stadium show one thin ring of solar panels, surely not enough to provide that much energy. Roski says in a video on lastadium.la that the project will create more than 18,000 jobs, but again, no specifics are included or implied. Also, Roski’s demand that any team that agrees to move into his stadium must give him thirty percent ownership will likely incense a team warming up to L.A.
Beyond the stadiums, beyond the developers, the Los Angeles community ought to push for a say in their team. This city has had many bad experiences with eccentric and egomaniacal sports owners. We lost the Raiders due to Al Davis’s insane opportunism. We lost our love for the Dodgers due to Frank McCourt’s negligence and extravagant lifestyle. We lost all hope for the Clippers due to Donald Sterling’s acidic self-importance and lackluster management. Municipal ownership would guarantee fair labor practices and ensure the team’s dedication to our community. Unfortunately, this plan has gained little traction in the media and has been written off by just about everyone involved.
But it’s never too late. Now is the time to speak up to city government and AEG in favor of a municipally owned team, and start a long tradition of football and good jobs in Los Angeles.