I attended the hearing a few weeks ago in which the public got to see – and react to – the ambitious redevelopment plans for the almost-dead Westfield Promenade shopping center. Clearly, the proposed stadium is creating the most heartache.
That’s primarily because no one knows what it will be used for.
As one exasperated neighbor put it: since the main use of the stadium is unknown, it’s difficult to know whether to support it or oppose it.
It’s one thing if a minor league baseball team is the main tenant. It’s another if the venue is used primarily for a string of raucous, packed-to-the-rafters, open-air concerts that last well into the night and attract gangs.
The proposed stadium has 15,000 seats. That’s 50 percent greater than the Galen Center and only a couple thousand seats less than the Forum in Inglewood. One woman said that since the average minor league baseball game only attracts 3,000-4,000 spectators, something more than baseball apparently is envisioned. But what, exactly? Since there’s no answer, some of the neighbors at the meeting got squirmy when the stadium was being discussed.
Folks around Woodland Hills are hearing that whispered line from the old movie: Build it, and they will come. But in this case, we don’t know who “they” is. And we may not want them to come.
I feel sympathy for the developer, the former Westfield Corp. and now Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. It envisioned a Dodgers minor league team would play there. That would be terrific, but it’s not possible because the Los Angeles Angels nixed that notion. (In-market major league teams have veto power over minor league teams moving into their market.) But Westfield proceeded with the stadium idea in hopes that some sports team would call it home. However, the longer the uncertainty has lingered, the squirmier those nearby residents have gotten.
Another objection to the stadium is traffic. Neighbors worry that the streets and the 101 Freeway will be jammed at night after events – whatever those events may be – and permanently damage the residential character of the surrounding area.
Even City Councilman Bob Blumenfield has “serious concerns” about the stadium because of the traffic it will generate. As a result, he told Business Journal reporter Michael Aushenker that he doesn’t support the stadium part of the proposal. That’s saying something because Blumenfield is the one who championed turning the Warner Center area into the downtown of the West Valley by helping to create the 2035 Plan.