New stadium a chance to build identity

Los Angeles is a city without a face, lacking a symbol.

Now, a movement is crystallizing to bring a major NFL team to the heart of Los Angeles to inhabit a stadium on the current site of the L.A. Convention Center. It was even announced that the naming rights had already been sold, christening the stadium Farmers Field,  for Farmers Insurance.

Perhaps our city’s famous college crosstown rivalry is far more interesting than any pro team ever could be, but this city, with its vitality and diversity, could be united under allegiance to an NFL team. The way this stadium is materializing, however, as a corporate venture from the Anschutz Entertainment Group, the entertainment conglomerate behind L.A. Live, does not appear to promise such unity.

There’s no soul to L.A. Live, with its imitation Citywalk shopping area and little to do that justifies the exorbitant local parking fees. This is the status quo for Los Angeles. L.A.’s city government seems disinterested in overseeing the in-depth planning of development projects. As a result, L.A. Live and other similar development projects lack a connection to the city.

AEG’s plans could have a massive and poorly-understood effect on a community that already has three major sports teams in a highly condensed area. Would the new transit line make up for the increase in traffic on the 110? Will neighboring communities suffer any environmental harm? AEG seems unconcerned, and is even lobbying the city government and state assembly to exempt it from environmental regulations so it can build the stadium in time for the 2015 Superbowl.

I don’t blame AEG for its apparent disregard for the Los Angeles community, seeing as they don’t have any constituents to appease.

Ultimately, the hubbub over this proposed stadium might be the product of wishful thinking for a sports-starved L.A. still bitter from its abandonment by the Rams and Raiders. But the proposed Farmers Field stands as evidence of a larger cultural divide in our city. Development is handled by a privileged few who have little investment in the long-term economic growth of a community, and the result is a disconnected and faceless city lacking in identity.

City and state officials need to look beyond short-term concerns and plot a vision of a new Los Angeles for the 21st century.

Farmers Field is not that vision.

Dan Killam is a junior majoring in environmental sciences.