There's been a lot of talk about which professional football team should return to Los Angeles, and which stadium proposal -- Carson or Inglewood -- is the better bet. Let the fans and the billionaire team owners figure that out.
Here's what the rest of us should be asking: Which stadium is going to screw up traffic the least? Or, even better, which team owner/stadium operator is willing to do the most to help ease traffic by making it as simple as possible for fans to take public transit, rideshare, bike or walk to events?
Both proposals are smack in the middle of some of the nation's worst traffic congestion. The Inglewood stadium is served by the 405, 105 and 110 freeways. The Carson stadium is next to the 405. And remember, we're not just talking about 10 to 12 Sunday games per season. Whichever stadium is picked, the operators would aim to use the site for concerts and other big-ticket events throughout the year.
Yet despite the region's rapidly expanding rail network, neither project is within easy walking distance of a station. Inglewood, so far, has the advantage. The proposed stadium would be about a mile from one of the stops on the new Crenshaw Line. The developer has promised to run shuttles to connect the two. Both the stadium and the light rail line would open in 2019.
But buses may not be sufficient to handle tens of thousands of people on game days, nor will fans choose transit if faced with huge crowds and long waits for shuttles. If Inglewood is picked, the city and developers need to figure out how to get public transportation riders as close to the stadium as possible, without having to switch to a shuttle.
The proposed Carson stadium is near transit lines, but not close to any station. It's about two miles from the Harbor Gateway Transit Center and about four miles from the Blue Line's Del Amo Station. In November, stadium proponents said they too could run buses between the stadium and the transit stops, the Daily Breeze reported.
The city of Carson would apply for Metro funds to buy the shuttle buses. (So, why would Metro use limited public transportation funds to pay for something that should be the responsibility of the wealthy professional football team and developers?) The long-term goal would be to connect rail and buses directly to the stadium, but it's unclear who would fund the extensions.
The one public transportation bright spot is the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which could serve as the temporary home for the NFL until a new stadium is built. The Coliseum is right next to the Expo Line, providing an easy connection for anyone who wants to take the train to a game.
Professional football left Los Angeles in an era of cars. The Rams moved to Anaheim in 1980, the Raiders left for Oakland after the 1994 season and the Chargers shifted to San Diego in 1961. The NFL is on the cusp of returning to a more multi-modal L.A., with new rail lines and bus and bike lanes. If the NFL does commit to sending one or more teams back to Los Angeles, the team owners and host city need to make transportation choices a top priority, not an afterthought.
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