FAA does routine study of proposed NFL stadium site in Inglewood near LAX

The Federal Aviation Administration is conducting a routine review of the proposed professional football stadium in Inglewood, as the $1.86-billion project moves forward.

Filed last month, the obstruction evaluation will determine whether the structure backed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke could pose a hazard to air navigation. That's not expected to be a problem.

"The evaluation should be limited to a design review and likely a straightforward finding that there are no aviation or airspace issues," said Bill Withycombe, who retired in 2013 as the FAA's top official for a region that includes Arizona, California and Hawaii.

The highest point of the covered stadium would be 164 feet above ground and 290 feet above sea level, according to the submission to the FAA.

A stadium plan on the same Hollywood Park site in 1995 received a "no hazard" determination from the FAA. That concept was eight feet taller than the current proposal.

Earlier this year, the concept's close proximity to Los Angeles International Airport became the subject of a short-lived controversy.

Anschutz Entertainment Group, which in March abandoned long-standing plans to build an NFL stadium in downtown L.A., commissioned two reports that questioned the Inglewood location's safety.

Mark Rosenker, former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, warned in his report that landing-gear doors could detach from airplanes approaching LAX and plummet into the stadium.

And Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security secretary, suggested in a 14-page document that terrorists could shoot down an airplane over the stadium. He dubbed the possibility a "terrorist event 'twofer.' "

In response, the city of Inglewood hired San Jose-based TAL Global in March to conduct a "multiphased risk assessment" of the planned stadium. Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. has denounced the Ridge report as "fraudulent," and aviation experts disputed its conclusions.

The city-commissioned review is ongoing.

The obstruction evaluation focuses on the impact the project's height, location and size would have on nearby air traffic, Withycombe said. The FAA requires reviews for a variety of construction projects, including those taller than 200 feet.

Withycombe said such reviews usually are completed within six weeks, but some run six months or longer depending on the project's complexity and the FAA's workload.

Developers of the project have pledged to begin construction in December, though no NFL team has applied to relocate.

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