It's going to be one of the biggest concerts of the summer, drawing performers such as Kanye West and John Mayer and as many as 50,000 fans to Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles.
For weeks, organizers have been urging ticketholders to "Go Metro" and take the subway to the Made in America Festival over Labor Day weekend. But the subway station closest to the concert will be closed for three days, starting Friday at 7 p.m. Instead, revelers are being told to get off at nearby stations and make the roughly half-mile walk to the show. So much for convenient public transit.
Law enforcement and concert organizers asked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to close the Civic Center/Grand Park Station for a number of reasons. The exits are inside the perimeter of a ticket-only concert, and officials determined that it would be impractical to check tickets inside the station. There were also concerns about crowd control and public safety if hundreds or thousands of people were crammed onto the train platform.
Those concerns have some merit. Made in America, after all, is expected to be the biggest gathering ever held at the new park — those estimated 50,000 attendees would be double the number who turned out for the park's New Year's Eve bash. And it's the first time the site has hosted a ticketed event of this magnitude. There is a learning curve to managing giant festivals in a new venue, and the detours caused by closing one subway station are hardly insurmountable. Fine.
In the future, however, the city of Los Angeles and Grand Park managers should make sure that events don't cut off transportation options. If concertgoers "Go Metro" downtown, it will reduce freeway traffic, eliminate parking headaches and make roads safer when bleary patrons head home. It's in everyone's interest to make public transit as appealing as possible. Moreover, it's important to note that the station closure affects more than the Made in America attendees; anyone who might use the Civic Center stop to get home or to work or to visit the area will be detoured for three days.
Grand Park is a jewel, and it's sure to be in demand for more ticketed concerts and festivals, which bring a welcome infusion of money and vitality to a part of Los Angeles that was long dark after the close of business. In order to make the most of it, it should be reachable by public transit.