Comparing L.A. stadium plans

The battle to build an NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area, and the race to house a team or two in whatever gets constructed, continues full steam with new developments every week. And for NFL observers, particularly NFL observers who live in L.A. and more specifically NFL observers who want to see at least one team come to L.A., the drama has been quite entertaining to watch from a distance.

The latest plot twist came Sunday, when the Los Angeles Times revealed more elaborate designs for the Inglewood project spearheaded by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. That report included the detail that the stadium could accommodate two teams, with plans for separate front offices, locker rooms and owners’ suites for each. Therefore the Inglewood stadium COULD host either the Raiders or Chargers in addition to the Rams if it came to that.

We could go on and on and on about which teams deserve to relocate to L.A., the political machinations behind each of the three relevant teams’ situations, the best interests of the NFL, etc. But because this site is more geared toward examining the fan experience at sports venues, for this post we’re going to stick to evaluating the two existing stadium plans and which one would be more ideal to the patron attending games based on a few key categories. (Longtime readers of this blog may remember we did this a few years back with the other two NFL stadium plans in play at the time, the Farmers Field/downtown project that recently was declared dead on the operating table, and the Grand Crossing/City of Industry stadium that has, for all intents and purposes, been dead for some time now.)

So here we go:

Inglewood stadium rendering (HKS via Los Angeles Times)

Inglewood stadium rendering (HKS via Los Angeles Times)

Accessibility

The Inglewood stadium would sit on the grounds of the once-great racetrack Hollywood Park, across the street from the Forum, another old sporting venue of L.A.’s past that has found new life as a concert facility. Southland sporting fans of a certain age will surely remember navigating Inglewood’s streets to reach one of those old venues, which lie near the 405 and 105 freeways but are at least a mile from each.

The site of the Carson stadium is right alongside the 405 at Del Amo Boulevard, near the intersection of the 405 and 110. Infrastructure would likely have to be improved to better handle gameday traffic but the site’s proximity to two major freeways is a good start.

Neither site is near any Metro light rail lines, either existing or planned (although the planned Crenshaw Line will run close enough to the Inglewood stadium that it’s feasible gameday shuttle service from a designated station could be an option).

Advantage: Carson

Neighborhood

The area surrounding the Inglewood site gets something of a bad rap for crime. It certainly isn’t the most desirable neighborhood in the region but it never stopped fans from flocking to the Forum and Hollywood Park over the years. In its current state, it’s not a place fans would want to linger around in, but that could change depending on the other development in the area. However, it was recognized by development blog Curbed LA as its Neighborhood of the Year in 2014.

Carson’s site has a large shopping center on the other side of the 405, but is largely surrounded by neighborhoods and warehouses. Soccer fans will be familiar with the area, though, after attending games at Carson’s other stadium, the StubHub Center a few miles to the north.

Advantage: Slight edge to Carson based on current conditions

Stadium grounds

The entirety of the massive Hollywood Park site is being razed and redeveloped in what is seen as a chance to renew the area in what Inglewood civic leaders are calling the “City of Champions Revitalization Project.” The ambitious plan calls for housing, retail, office space, a hotel and a performing arts center to go alongside the stadium in a setting that presumably would be similar to, say, the Westgate City Center next to University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona. The site reportedly will allocate 9,000 parking spaces to fans on game days.

Carson’s plan calls for the stadium and more than 18,000 parking spaces surrounding it, but as of now there are no plans for further development on the proposed site. The construction of the stadium could bring other development but, unlike Inglewood, such development isn’t included in the current stadium plans.

Advantage: Inglewood

Carson stadium rendering (Manica Architecture via myfoxla.com)

Design

We can more thoroughly evaluate Inglewood’s stadium now that more detailed plans have been released, but the current renderings seem to incorporate the best features of the newest stadiums — suites at all levels, including field level; an attention to placing as many seats as possible between the goal lines; and large, state-of-the-art videoboards. But easily the most striking feature is the clear roof hanging over the field. Some people might not like it — it looks a little like a greenhouse, and many will justifiably question why a stadium in sunny Southern California needs protection from the elements (more on that later).

Carson’s stadium would be a strictly outdoor facility that, in the vein of the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, would feature a large stack of suites on one side of the venue and large seating areas along the other sideline. Similarly to Inglewood, Carson’s stadium also features large entrances and accessibility from all areas.

Advantage: Push. We’ll wait for more detailed Carson renderings, but both appear to be state-of-the-art, Super Bowl-worthy venues.

Potential

The aforementioned roof on the Inglewood stadium gives it a distinct advantage because it makes it a more versatile venue. OK, it seems weird that a football stadium in L.A. would use artificial turf, but the tradeoff is the ability to host strictly indoor events, most notably the Final Four. Think of all the things that AT&T Stadium in Arlington has hosted — NCAA Tournament games, boxing, the NBA All-Star Game — and it’s hard to imagine all those things can’t come to Inglewood as well. The roof makes that possible.

The Carson site is shaping up to be a strictly football-only environment. You can imagine Super Bowls, a new college bowl game and maybe neutral-site college football games taking place there, as well as large-scale concerts. But the potential isn’t quite as high for a larger variety of events.

Advantage: Inglewood

The verdict

Inglewood’s stadium certainly seems like the better fan experience at this point. But keep in mind that this is all based on the information that has been given up to this moment — Inglewood’s project is much farther along, with more detailed plans and designs released. We’re likely to see much more from the Carson project as the issue heats up, and it’s possible we’ll see some one-upsmanship in the race to curry the NFL’s favor. What seems clear is that only one of the two stadiums will be constructed, and it might not matter too much to NFL-starved L.A. fans which one is eventually chosen.

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