Friday, November 30, 2012

It's about time: Farmers Field

Even though it is labeled as the "Entertainment Capital of the World", Los Angeles still lacks what I believe is the most important piece: a football stadium. You don't have to be from Los Angeles to know the city has been fighting non-stop to build a stadium and bring an NFL team to the 2nd largest city in the country. I mean, technically the 2 biggest cities in the U.S. don't have football teams. And if you are confused, let me remind you that MetLife Stadium where the Giants and Jets play is located in New Jersey. Nothing against Jersey, but the New Jersey Giants and New Jersey Jets doesn't sound as good. A lot of it has to do with marketing the Franchise, which explains why the New Jersey Nets are now the Brooklyn Nets. Which makes it even all more intriguing why L.A. doesn't have a team, and why it has failed twice with the Rams and Raiders having short stints in The City of Angels. You would think a city like L.A. can successfully manage a team, but previous circumstances had failure written all over it. First of all, the stadium that was used was not built purposively for an NFL team. The Coliseum was the main stadium for the Olympics, and because it was a lot cheaper to reuse the facility rather than spending money to build anther one, the Rams and the Raiders called it home for a few seasons. Second, just like big sport markets such as Boston, Philadelphia and New York, L.A. is not the easiest town to play in, especially if you lose more than you win. Thus, the Raiders and Rams weren't helping themselves with their fan base. Yes the Raiders won their 3rd Championship while in Southern California, but that was in their second year and in their final 8 years the team didn't post successful winning records consistently enough. And third, the stadium was not up to par in design and functionality. This is what former Raiders Owner Al Davis complained in his final years in L.A. There has been a huge surge in building high tech modern stadiums and arenas in the U.S. For example, the New York area has added MetLife Stadium and the Barclay's Center, and when I lived in New York it was easy to see the excitement these venues brought to the city. Especially Brooklyn, where the Barclays Center has been fully embraced by the community and the city of New York. People take pride in having something great like that in their own backyard and Farmers Field will bring the same energy and excitement to L.A.
I say most importantly a stadium than an actual team because Downtown Los Angeles is about to have to have one of the biggest city facelifts in recent U.S. history. It is planned that in 2016, the 2 rendering images above will come become a reality and improve the city culturally, financially, visually, and officially stamp the city as the "Entertainment Capital of the World". On October 3rd AEG, the Los Angeles City Council and other important city figures approved the final plans for erecting the $1.2 billion stadium and expansion of the Convention Center. Gensler, a large firm based out of San Francisco, is spearheading the project which involves destroying the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center where the stadium will exist, the construction of Pico Hall which will expand the Convention Center, and redefine the landscape that connects Staples Center, Nokia Theatre, the Ritz Carlton, L.A. Live area and Convention Center. Shovels cannot officially go into the ground until the NFL officially agrees in moving a team to the area, but the biggest hurdle is out of the way with the City Council approving the final plans. 

I guess you can say "3rd time's the charm" couldn't be more truer than now with this huge expansion. City officials realized what lacked with the Rams and Raiders was a place they can actually call home. Farmers Field will be the first LEED accredited NFL stadium making the venue already a hot commodity for big events such as other major sporting events and concerts. With beautiful year round weather, Farmers Field can host events 365 days out of the year, and if weather for some reason is an issue don't worry, just call the Director of Facilities and ask him to close the state of the art retractable roof. This project is privately funded meaning it will not cost the city any money and actually help L.A. become debt free; something the city and country has been severely struggling with the past 4 years. The 30,000+ jobs it will provide will help decrease the unemployment rate and rejuvenate the spirits of many people. Along with the jobs it will generate, it will also help increase business for local hotels, restaurants, markets etc. Culturally it will unite the city even more with another reason for complete strangers to come together and celebrate. Like I mentioned in my blogpost titled New York's "Coliseums", stadiums are a great way to unite people from different backgrounds. 

I have been to L.A. Live a couple times and it really is a great area for sport fans, but when I see images of the new landscape you can see why people are excited about it. It is fitting that my most recent blog entry was of my Arch+Series featuring Landscapes, because the design of the layout is just as important and exciting as the actual stadium. Architecturally I really do enjoy the design of the stadium and I hope its functionality is just as great. I am very critical when it comes to stadium design and function since it is something I am pursuing, but what I have seen and read so far I definitely approve. Check out the cool video the Farmers Field committee put together showing 3D renderings of the project and the impact it will have on the city.
I can seriously write a book about the project and how I feel about it, but that would be overkill. So below is a link to the official Farmers Field website where you can see more photos of the complete expansion and a list of cool details about the 68,000+ seat venue and additions to the Convention Center and L.A. Live. On the website you can also pre-register for tickets and get the latest news and updates on the current project and the total impact it will have on Los Angeles. I am very excited that football will be coming to the best city in the country. My question is, how does the L.A. area have 2 MLS, 2 NBA, 2 NHL and 2 MLB teams but no NFL team?!?! (okay okay, the Ducks and Angels are in Anaheim, but they are close enough) Anyway, back to my question. I guess in 2016 The City of Angels will not have to worry about answering it anymore.

Also, if your interested in learning more about Gensler, the firm who is designing the stadium, below is the link to their website where you can also check out the work they have done, and current projects they are working on.

If you live in L.A. what is your take on the stadium? How do you feel about a NFL team finally moving to our city?

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