That was quite a story in the Daily News this morning about a group of architects citing major design flaws in the revamped convention center - flaws that will seriously impact Pico Boulevard and the Pico-Union neighborhood. The kicker is that these folks are part of a group advising the mayor. "This is not good city design," said Norman Millar, one of the architects. More time and money - at least $50 million - are needed to make things right. It's doubtful that will happen: AEG head Tim Leiweke says the city is already getting a deal on the convention center/stadium complex, and it's unlikely that he (or whoever the new owner of AEG turns out to be) will be interested in forking over any more money. From the Daily News:
The Vision Team's report raises questions about the new hall's design and how it will impact the downtown area. The team's warnings follow similar concerns voiced by Councilman Ed Reyes over the last six months that the convention center hall design is not pedestrian friendly and would create a barrier between the Pico-Union neighborhood and the rest of the downtown. The councilman, who sits on the council committee that reviewed the stadium proposal, said he was never made aware of the Vision Team's report. Told of their recommendations Wednesday, Reyes replied, "Wow."
Regrettably, none of this really threatens to derail the stadium package, which will go to the City Council on Friday. Nor will the questionable economic benefits, as I outlined on KPCC's Business Update. Hello! Is anyone out there paying attention?
Lacter: It's not huge - about 2,500 temporary construction jobs and another 6,300 permanent jobs. Keep in mind that the city of L.A. has a total workforce of 1.6 million people. Most every economist who has studied this says that having a football stadium won't add to the economy, but just shift dollars that otherwise would be spent somewhere else.
Steve Julian: And tourism?
Lacter: Well, there's disagreement about the amount of additional convention business this might bring. AEG claims that L.A. will get another 14 conventions each year. The city's own research says it's closer to five. And even five may be pushing it, considering that the convention business has fallen on hard times, and it's going to be tougher to compete with cities like Las Vegas, Chicago, and Anaheim.
Julian: How would this impact L.A.'s financial situation?
Lacter: In theory it wouldn't add to the deficit because there's no taxpayer money involved. But, even a revenue neutral project might be risky at a time when so much of the city is falling apart because of these massive budget cuts that have been drastically reducing services. So, the question is whether this is worth a very limited payback. That's something the council should be mulling over this week.