Op-Ed: Terrorism Fears Cloud Los Angeles Stadium Debate

With as many as a half-dozen groups vying to develop an NFL stadium in Los Angeles, things were bound to get ugly. And they did. A report warns of a possible terrorist attack at one stadium site. The report's publisher? Backers of a rival stadium.

2 minute read

March 4, 2015, 8:00 AM PST

By Josh Stephens @jrstephens310

Farmers Field

AEG Worldwide / Farmers Field

The specter of terrorism barely existed in 1995. That's the year when the Raiders and Rams both bolted from Los Angeles, to the chagrin of the city's football fans. Since then, countless stadium proposals, rumored moves, and hoped-for expansion teams have come and gone. Lately, serious proposals, including one associated with the (St. Louis) Rams, seem to be gaining traction. 

AEG, the longtime backer of a stadium proposal for downtown Los Angeles, has gone to the unusual length of citing terrorism as a reason to oppose a proposed stadium in Inglewood. That stadium would be under the flight path of LAX, and AEG got no less an authority than former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge to describe the dangers that the site poses. 

Writing in the California Planning & Development Report, Josh Stephens takes issue not only with Ridge's conclusions and AEG's gamesmanship, but also with the entire concept of holding the public realm hostage to fears of terrorism. As real a threat as terrorism may be, writes Stephens, Americans should remember that public space should not be denigrated in the face of contrived paranoia. 

"It’s just so convenient that someone proposes a competing stadium and that someone’s biggest, and increasingly most desperate competitor, just happens to produce a report linking that project with Americans’ single greatest fear. What terrifies me is that AEG thinks Angelenos are stupid enough to fall for this craven gambit."

"Must every major debate be reduced to terrorism? And how much damage are we going to inflict on the public realm in the process? We’ve seen, and I’ve written about, this paranoia play so many times before. By all means, cities must take reasonable security measures. But crying wolf over terrorism does grave damage, both to public discourse and to the public realm."

Monday, March 2, 2015 in California Planning & Development Report

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