As a 49ers fan, I had a good laugh in 1994 when the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Raiders both fled their home city in the same season as the likelyhood of new or renovated stadiums for the two teams became increasingly unlikely, despite several promises to the contrary. Nearly 15 years later, it’s no longer a laughing matter.
Los Angeles, the country’s largest media market, has been without a professional football franchise since the 1994 season. The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders both play in venues that are considered to be vastly outdated by modern standards, and the San Francisco 49ers still play at Candlestick Park, which has not undergone a major renovation since 1971 and is widely considered to be the most dilapidated in-use venue in American professional sports.
The news last week that the NFL is warming to developer Ed Roski’s recent LA stadium proposal could serve as the catalyst to turn this situation around.
Several proposals for new football stadiums in the greater Los Angleles area have come and gone over the past twenty years, but none has appeared to be quite as refined or thought out as that put forth by Roski. Aspects of the stadium design, such as the use of hilly terrain to vastly reduce the cost of construction and the multi-use capabilities of the planned surrounding development, as well as Roski’s surprising success in gaining support from local elected officials in the City of Industry, where the proposed stadium site is located, gives the plan a strong possibility of success.
Los Angeles aside, a lot is at stake for California as a whole. The successful construction of a Los Angeles stadium would immediately entice California’s three existing football franchises to move to Los Angeles and take advantage of both a brand new, state-of-the-art venue as well as a large and vastly profitable media market. As a result, the cities of San Francisco, San Diego, and Oakland and their surrounding localities, which thus far have had the luxury of dragging their feet and stonewalling their sports franchises on the possibility of new venues, would be forced to change course or risk the possibility of their teams opting for a lucrative LA deal.
Best case scenario — a strong possibility exists that California could see four state-of-the-art sports venues open in the next seven years, along with a potential investment of eight billion dollars into the state economy from construction alone. Cities would benefit by owning and operating versatile facilities that could attract events such as the World Cup, NCAA tournaments and bowl games, outdoor concerts and more. And the Super Bowl, for which the NFL has been itching to add a California venue to regular rotation, would bring hundreds of millions more in tourism investments; Arizona has estimated that last year’s game brought $500 million to their state economy, and that number would only grow if the event were to come back to California.
Business and Political leaders from throughout California should see the obvious benefits to the success of the Los Angeles project, as well as others across the state seeking to build modern outdoor venues. If Ed Roski is able to pull his plan off, he will have played a large part in helping jumpstart a stagnant part of our state’s economy – something California desperately needs.