A proposed $1.5 billion NFL stadium and convention center project downtown would significantly increase traffic on game days and lead to more noise and light from concerts, fireworks shows and tailgating in a new public plaza, according to an analysis of the project released today.
According to a 10,000-page environmental impact report, the predicted effects of the stadium plan include an estimated 19,500 new car trips downtown for game days, noise and light from 35 fireworks shows per year and sound systems in an outdoor public plaza that would be used for tailgating.
The detailed report also includes numerous plans the project's developer would take to mitigate the effects of building a 72,000-seat football stadium and a new convention center hall in downtown L.A.
Anschutz Entertainment Group, which hopes to attract an NFL franchise to Los Angeles for the first time since 1994, funded the $27 million study, which was compiled with help from the city's Transportation, Fire and Police departments, Caltrans, Metro and Metrolink.
The report, which is posted on the city Planning Department's website, addresses the project's anticipated impacts on such issues as traffic, air quality, noise, light pollution and public safety.
"We are here today to continue to push to bring the NFL back to the city of Los Angeles,'' AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke said during a news conference on the steps of City Hall. "We are aware that this is not the end of the process, but in terms of football, we are now in the offensive zone, not the defensive zone."
Leiweke made the remarks surrounded by several dozen union construction workers and L.A. County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo, Central City Association President and CEO Carol Schatz, and LA/OC Building and Construction Trades Executive Secretary Robbie Hunter.
Leiweke reiterated his claim that AEG's proposal is as much about rebuilding the convention center as building the stadium.
"Fixing the convention center is the key piece that gets the hotels built, that brings all of the new jobs back to L.A.,'' he said.
The EIR predicts the stadium and convention center would generate about 11,000 new permanent jobs.
AEG's reclusive owner, Philip Anschutz, is prepared to spend whatever it takes to purchase a team and build the stadium, Leiweke said.
"By the end of this calendar year, at the latest first quarter of 2013, we will be done with the EIR, and we will be able to look the NFL in the eye and tell them we have a political plan that has been approved by the city of Los Angeles," Leiweke said.
The environmental report focuses much attention on how fans will get to the stadium and what measures AEG would take to mitigate traffic.
The traffic analysis prepared by The Mobility Group predicts football games would bring about 19,500 new car trips to downtown on game days. The report estimates that 20 percent of fans would take public transit for weekday games and 15 percent on weekends. About 7 percent of fans would walk to games on weekdays, 3.5 percent on weekends, the report predicts.
The EIR estimates an existing parking supply of about 48,480 spaces
within a 20-minute walking distance from the stadium. The plan calls for
building two parking structures adjacent to the stadium to add about 1,000
Leiweke conceded that AEG would need to "change people's (transportation) habits'' in order to meet ambitious goals for getting people to the stadium via transit. He said fans would be rewarded with ticket discounts and other unspecified benefits for committing to take light rail to games.
AEG plans to spend about $35 million on a variety of transportation improvements to limit traffic impacts, including upgrades to traffic signals at
73 intersections in the area around the stadium and physical improvements to 11 of the intersections. AEG will also pay Caltrans $2.5 million to study the cost and affects of adding a lane on the Hollywood (101) Freeway where an interchange regularly backs up traffic on the Harbor (110) Freeway. The developer says it will also commit $10 million to pay for an expanded light rail platform at 11th and Hope streets.
However, the report describes the stadium's traffic impacts as "peaks'' only on game days and implies AEG will not propose or pay for improvements
that would generally improve traffic in the downtown area. The report describes
the mitigation efforts as "spot" improvements.
"It is not practical or feasible to provide additional freeway or roadway infrastructure improvements just to handle event traffic for short periods of time,'' the report states. "Transportation impacts at Event Centers and stadiums due to these temporarily high peaks are therefore normal, are typically expected, and are generally accepted by event attendees."
According to the study, there is no way to minimize the sound from outdoor sound systems, crowd cheering, fireworks or traffic to a "less than
significant level." In most cases the study found, sound mitigation measures,
such as putting a roof on the stadium, would not meet AEG's goal of developing
an event center that takes advantage of the city's nice weather.
The EIR is scheduled to go through a 45-day public comment period, although Councilman Bill Rosendahl said Wednesday he wanted to extend it to 90 days, given its size. Once approved by the City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the report would be open to legal challenges for 175 days.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law in September 2011 that created special legal protections for the proposed stadium.
Sponsored by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, Senate Bill 292 also placed new environmental restrictions on the stadium, including a provision requiring it to have the highest rate of attendance by transportation other than cars of any NFL stadium in the nation.
Majestic Realty has a competing plan for a football stadium in Industry which won exemptions from state environmental laws in 2009. Both Majestic and AEG want to lure an NFL team to Los Angeles.According to the EIR, the city would receive an estimated $27.3 million in new tax revenues as a result of the development, mostly from increased hotel and other taxes off-site.
AEG wants to build the stadium where the 40-year-old West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center sits. Architects hired by AEG have presented preliminary renderings showing an addition to the South Hall of the convention
center that would create a 500,000-square-foot contiguous exhibition space.
According to the EIR, the stadium and a modernized convention center would generate $1.7 billion for the local economy along with thousands of new jobs.
But an analyst with the office that advises state legislators has said the project's economic benefits are "likely overstated."
Speaking to a state Senate panel last summer, Mark Whitaker, senior policy analyst in the California Legislative Analyst's Office, said the majority of any economic boost from a new stadium would be localized to the downtown area and come "at the expense of development elsewhere in the city."
Leiweke scoffed at the analyst's statement.
"They're wrong and we can prove it,'' he said. "By the way, they're the same ones that do a great job on the (state) budget every year."
No NFL team has played in the Los Angeles area since 1994. The Los Angeles Raiders played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1982-1994 before returning to Oakland in 1995. The Los Angeles Rams played in the Coliseum from 1946-1979 and at what was then known as Anaheim Stadium from 1980-1994 before moving to St. Louis in 1995.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa cheered the release of the EIR as "another step in the long process of making Farmer's Field and the new convention center a reality."
Villaraigosa said he is working hard to bring a team to L.A., "and a world-class stadium is an important part of that effort."
The mayor said an upgraded convention center would help the city compete
for hosting the nation's largest conventions.
— By Richie Duchon, City News Service