The City of L.A. today reached a historic agreement on a new NFL football stadium to be built at the intersection of the 405 and the 10 freeways.
The decision comes after various proposals for stadium plans have fallen through in recent years, notably the proposed $1.5 billion Farmers Field downtown, a renovation to the L.A. Coliseum, and plans to create a new venue at the Hollywood Park racetrack or even near Dodger Stadium.
At a groundbreaking ceremony held at the site, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who will leave office July 1, said the stadium will be a big part of his legacy. “Every time our citizens drive by, however slowly, and hear the cheers of football fans, I want them to remember my dedication to making this project a reality,” he said very loudly, over the sound of a passing Trader Joe's truck.
When asked about the potential traffic concerns that might arise from placing the stadium at the nation's busiest interchange, Villaraigosa said he viewed the location as an advantage rather than a detriment.
“Lots of people pass by that freeway intersection anyway,” Villaraigosa said. “Freeways are our community gathering places in L.A., and I think it'd be great for Angelenos to share a new experience in a place where they spend a lot of time together already.”
“Frankly, we have to put it somewhere,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell added. “It's kind of ridiculous that our nation's second-largest television market doesn't have a football team. I mean, let's get this show on the road.”
In order to prepare for the stadium's 2019 opening, Villaragoisa said that in addition to the 405's 10-mile HOV lane currently being constructed, the highway will be getting an “NFL lane.” The addition will requiring further widening of the 405, alterations to 27 on- and off-ramps and more nighttime and weekend street closings that some are already referring to as the “Footballcalypse.”
While some neighborhood commuters are wary of the changes, others are more optimistic. Said Betty Smith, a Culver City resident who works in Los Feliz, “The last couple Carmageddons really were't that bad so I'm sure even more construction will continue to not be a big deal.”
After the announcement, a number of NFL teams immediately expressed interest in moving to L.A., including the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills.
“I know it's an unorthodox location,” said Jaguars owner Shahid Kahn. “But come on — we're comparing it to Jacksonville.”