Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Football Stadiums

Ok. I get it. They want more money. Stadiums such as football that get used 8 times a year are pretty much worthless in urbanism. But don't pretend that the Sprinter line is going to help bring lots of people to Chargers games. There's just not the capacity of the San Diego Trolley, which carry thousands of people to Chargers/Padres games. The Sprinter just doesn't have that capacity, mostly due to lack of train cars.
Chargers officials have said the site in Escondido is especially attractive because it's close to the Sprinter light rail line and freeways that provide easy access to San Diego, coastal North County and Riverside County.
Is it just me, or are all football stadium planners just transportation illiterate? Maybe it doesn't really matter 8 days a year.


Anonymous said...

This is the what we a dealing with in Minnesota at the moment with the Vikings. The Metrodome has just been vacated by the Gophers and the Twins have three games in the stadium (unless we make the playoffs) until they move into a new venue. The Metrodome has great transit connections, but the area has not seen much in redevlopment in 28 years. One reason for this is the fact that landowners in the area (mostly the local daily newspaper the Startribune) have empty lots that generate lots of cash on game days. They do nothing to improve the land and make $$$. Therefore we have the eastern half of downtown MPLS that is pretty dead.

The new owner of the Vikings is a real estate developer and he sees the tremendous potential in the area. When he bought the team a plan was in the works for a move from Downtown to the burbs, a great idea because there are eight games a year. Since then Wilf (owner), has spurned the officials in the burbs, and is focusing efforts around a new stadium on the Metrodome site.

I am conflicted. The renderings that they have made public look great. Dense urban environment. A new transit area that will help facilitate transfers to the new central corridor light rail. My main concern is why have a massive structure that is going to be at capacity only twelve times a year (2 pre-season, 8 reg, possibly 2 playoff). This land could be used for more useful activities like housing, office, retail, etc. What is stopping redevelopment is the fact that land (parking lot) owners in the area are not going to sell until they see big bucks. Unless the gravy train revenue stream from NFL, NCAA and MLB game days ends. After that we may see a market that values good urbanism over dead real estate.

The Vikings claim that this stadium will be like the newer NFL stadiums like the new AZ Cardinals or INDY Colts, meaning that NCAA final fours could be hosted. That is great but the cost of a stadium that can host multiple events dwarfs the cost of a nice single purpose stadium in the suburbs. I am all about urbanism, I think rail transit needs to be expanded in this country, and I like football, but they do not need to coexist.

J.D. Hammond said...

I've seen similar behavior all over the country, much of it exclusively limited to football stadia. Dallas, Washington, San Francisco, you name it. (I kind of chafe at using the names of the cities, as almost none of these stadia are actually in the city their team represents.)

New York very nearly had a stadium for the Jets in Hell's Kitchen to be served by the 7 line extension, but that deal seems to have fallen apart rather completely. I'm not sure we're going to see anything like that momentum again until oil becomes punishingly expensive.

Robert said...

I think that rather than simply lamenting the type of transportation available to the proposed Escondido site, it is necessary to compare the status quo transportation picture in Mission Valley to the alternative in Escondido.

Currently, the Qualcomm stadium parking lot accommodates 18,500 cars. Most folks come in pairs, at least, so the parking lot accommodates 37,000 people per game. The Qualcomm stadium parking lot fills up for every single game, sometimes hours before game time. Many people park at nearby businesses and hike in. Many park at stations along the Green Line trolley and ride it the mile or two from Fashion Valley, Hazard Center, Fenton Parkway, or Old Town.

Further, the fan base for the Chargers trends to come from the northern suburbs. My point is that almost everyone that goes to the Chargers games today drives a long way to get there; there are few people that take public transportation all the way from home to the game -- it is impractical, involving 1 or more transfers. Game-goers would give up their half of Sunday just traveling.

In contrast, the Escondido site is much nearer the homes of most Chargers fans. Given that, Escondido is a perfect place for the Chargers and would lead to fewer vehicle miles driven.

This suggestion that the Sprinter's inadequate capacity relative to the Green Line trolley would lead to more driving ignores the fact that everyone drives to Qualcomm already. At least with Escondido, they drive a shorter distance.

Jon said...

i've never understood why cities dont have one non-baseball stadium shared between the local NFL team, the local college football team and the local MLS soccer team? they all have infrequent games and need a rectangular field.

Matt Fisher said...

What's the point of this regarding football (or soccer) stadiums? It's useless, then. This appears to be screwed.

Not to mention the fact that the Ottawa Senators, my city's NHL franchise, plays at Scotiabank Place in Kanata. LRT would be beneficial towards there, but it would evidently come later (since converting the Transitway as far as the more inner terminal stations, i.e. Baseline and Blair, should be done first).

Bob Davis said...

Here in the LA area, we have been living just fine with NO NFL teams any nearer than San Diego. The one proposal that may get past the talking stage is in (I think) a former cow pasture in the eastern part of the county, far from any light rail line; the only nearby rail service is the Metrolink Riverside Line, which also has a lot of UP freight action. (note: So. Calif. Metrolink is a diesel-hauled mostly commuter service, not a light rail system like St. Louis or Manchester Metrolink). Metrolink does have a station at the Fontana Raceway, which only has auto races a few times a year, so they are willing to serve public events that are relatively infrequent. In a few years, the Metro Expo light rail line will provide service to the Coliseum (near USC), but the NFL doesn't seem to be interested in that stadium, since it doesn't have luxury boxes and other amenities that the big spenders like. Transit operators and sporting events are a rather awkward relationship. Baseball parks have dozens of games every season; the one with a rail connection that I'm familiar with is AT&T Park in San Francisco. When game time approaches, Muni has several trucks with support personnel parked nearby just in case something goes wrong just after the last out. Pacific Electric used to run specials to Santa Anita Race Track, which probably required paying overtime to crews, but which did get some use out of older cars that spent most of their time in the yard.
And a comment on Mr. Anonymous' entry: There's an old story about a fellow who had just inherited some land, and was telling a friend about how valuable it was. Friend asks, "Valuable, eh? What does it have? Gold, oil, diamonds, copper, uranium?" New landowner says, "Even better--parking space!"

Andrew said...

Then again look at what the "New" Madison Square Garden did to Penn Station in NYC or what the Bell Centre did to Windsor Station in Montreal.

Though look at Toronto with Air Canada Centre & the Rogers Centre being an easy walk from Union Station.

njh said...

The real problem is the terrible land tax laws in the US which encourage land speculation and ground level car parking in high value areas. Fix the tax rules and this wasted space will fill up real fast!