Los Angeles based architecture and design firm Gensler has been tapped to lead the way on the construction of the project despite never having designed a football stadium. And they already have an inspiration - the 66,000 seat Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, which was the main venue for the 2006 World Cup and currently is home to the Bayern Munich soccer team.
Even though they've never built a football stadium, Gensler is not totally unqualified for the job. They were heavily involved in the development of the very flashy L.A. Live area adjacent to the Staples Center, having built the 54-story hotel and residence tower that's part of the district. That gave them a leg up in the selection process.
Tim Romani, president and chief executive of ICON Venue Group, which is overseeing the proposed project, said the important aspect of Gensler "is the people, not the practice."
Romani said Gensler's extensive experience in helping design the L.A. Live campus will help expedite the environmental impact report, a necessary step toward getting clearance for a stadium.And it's not as though Gensler is unfamiliar with building sporting venues. According to their website, the firm is currently at work on the renovations on Roland Garros tennis stadium, the Moscow Sports and Entertainment Complex and the Detroit Lions training facility.
"They understand how this site works," he said. "They understand all of the infrastructure, and that saves two to three months if not more of the EIR process."
Yet there are several issues remaining...
- The city must be convinced to tear down and relocate the West Hall of its convention center which will cost a pretty penny. It's hard to imagine local taxpayers will want to foot the bill for that considering the local uproar that ensued when L.A. officials thought about using taxpayer dollars for other sports and entertainment events like the Lakers' recent championship parade or Michael Jackson's memorial at the Staples Center.
- There is competing site in the City of Industry led by developer Ed Roski, which is already completely set for construction of a venue - unlike the downtown site which still has to conduct an environmental impact report.
- Whether or not people want another major sports and entertainment venue in downtown Los Angeles isn't certain. In my extremely unscientific polling, I have yet to talk to someone who thinks it's a good idea to put another major traffic suck to an area that is already over-saturated. Rare is the night when there isn't an event at the Staples Center - especially in the fall and winter when the Lakers, Clippers and Kings are in season. Less than five miles to the north is Dodger Stadium and just about the same distance south is the L.A. Coliseum where USC plays football six Saturdays a year. In a different city with better public transportation, it likely wouldn't be an issue. But in car-crazed Los Angeles it's one more thing to tie up freeway traffic.
Oh...and then there's that little issue of NFL owners crying poverty. The money that a new stadium and a team in the country's second largest market would bring make it hard for the league to complain about how hard it is to turn a profit. Of course Roger Goodell and company can't really stop AEG or anyone else from making an announcement like this. But I'm sure they would have preferred to keep the lid on it for a little while.