Quality: New Rams/Chargers Stadium Looks to Revitalize a Community

In January of 2016, it was announced and confirmed that the St. Louis Rams of the NFL were moving back to Los Angeles for the start of the 2016-17 season. Along with the Rams, the Chargers have relocated to LA and will be soon followed by a massive 2.6 billion dollar project known as the City of Champions Stadium.

Part of the plan for such a massive project is to expand the metropolitan area of Inglewood and revitalize the community. The property of the stadium will include a full-sized pool, restaurants, a hotel with up to 300 rooms, and more than 2,500 residential units in the surrounding area (Hollywood Park Life, 2016). The stadium facilitates an image to make the Hollywood Park an attractive place to eat and even live rather than a place to just watch a football game. In doing this, the new stadium in Inglewood has an opportunity to resurrect the economy of an entire city.

Brian Torone is an architect who lives in the Bay Area and was an instrumental part of the renovation of Oracle arena, located in Oakland. Like so many of the US population, Torone considers sports to be more than just a game. It is its own culture. The City of Champions Stadium looks to bring atmosphere, enthusiasm, and an identity to a community that has been relatively abysmal for the majority of the 21st century.

“If the stadium is built with the appropriate level of integration into the community (i.e. with the accompanying nice housing, restaurants, etc.), it will definitely boost morale whether the team is successful or not,” explains Torone.

It is morale that the city of Inglewood is lacking. The LA Times, in a recent interview with a business owner in the downtown area, claims that “Inglewood is dead. There’s nothing going on. Every day we are struggling”.

According to Torone, it is important when designing a professional sports venue to consider its surroundings.

“A great example is Coors Field in Denver (Where the Colorado Rockies of professional baseball play and coincidentally is the city where Rams owner Stan Kroenke owns Soccer’s Colorado Rapids). The team has never been hugely successful, yet the stadium, built in 1993, was the centerpiece of a wonderful new gentrified neighborhood that, to this day, is a great place to go, win or lose.”

Inglewood first became a city in 1908 with a population of 1,200 according to cityofInglewood.com. Ironically enough, it was destruction that added popularity to the newly appointed city as an earthquake in 1920 caught the attention of many on a national scale. People traveled to Inglewood to study and observe the damage that had been done. Many decided that the climate and structure of the city was more than suitable to live and from 1920 to 1925 Inglewood was the fastest growing city in the United States.

It was during the 1960’s that Inglewood began to adopt the concept of a metropolitan environment as Hollywood Park Racetrack and the Great Western Forum (the home of LA’s beloved Lakers for 33 years) were built, making Inglewood the pinnacle for Los Angeles sports while effectively providing entertainment, tourist appeal, and most importantly income from a revenue perspective.

This success from an economic standpoint lasted well into the 80’s and into the 90’s. But, seemingly there has been a correlation with the presence of professional sports and the success of the city. The Forum is still alive and kicking although it has lost its biggest and most consistent source of appeal when the Lakers moved to the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles in 1999. Hollywood Park Racetrack has been taken down completely which was the glue to the metropolitan design envisioned in the 60’s. With a number of dying businesses and unoccupied office and residential space, this new stadium not only brings in revenue, but it will bring jobs to many.

The City of Champions Stadium is projected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs to Inglewood. Unlike the mentioned venues above, the COC Stadium will not be partly funded by taxpayers. In fact, according to Hollywood Park Life (2016), 10% of all NFL related revenue generated by the Stadium will be given back to the community of Inglewood.

So this is a win for the city any way you slice it, right? Not according to Nick Jameson who has lived in Los Angeles since 2013. Nick has a different perspective as he proclaims admittedly that, “The new stadium will probably result in further gentrification of the area which I’m not for, however.” Not from the west coast, Nick’s experience with a city in the process of gentrification leads him to believe there may be negative effects as Inglewood looks to expand and grow its culture and economy.

“Los Angeles is expensive,” Nick explains. “This is just going to push people who can’t afford to live there further away. I saw it happen in New Orleans, and I was probably part of the problem.”

Inglewood may experience inflation as the cost of living will increase with a boosted economy, but there is further concern amongst LA locals.  Since the stadium in Inglewood will not be ready until 2019, the Rams will be returning to the Coliseum in University Park (a few miles south of downtown Los Angeles) which hosted the organizations home games from 1946 to 1979 according to Sports Illustrated.

While the homecoming brings a nostalgic enthusiasm to LA, it does cause issues as far as the daily commute. The stadium is currently occupied by the USC Trojans which hosts home games on Saturdays during football season. Now there will be ensuing games on some Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

“I work in Beverly Hills,” says Nick. “The commute is 3 miles, and will take anywhere from 15-45 minutes…Traffic in Los Angeles is just something you come to accept. It’s brutal, and can be the biggest deterrent in leaving your house.”

Aside from potential fundamental issues directly connected with “The Revitalization Project”, excitement of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers coming back to the city where the franchise originated not only brings football back to a community but has an opportunity to positively impact a city that has struggled relatively speaking (considering its close proximity to the booming downtown area and Beverly Hills) for virtually all of the 21st century. As the gentrification process has already begun in Inglewood, it is currently transitioning into an acceptable place to live and even raise a family.

As a community does its best in a transitional period, the City of Champions Stadium acts as its biggest investor, expected to bring in about 21-million dollars in stadium-related revenue annually.

…And they say football is just a sport.

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