Inglewood explores building a people mover from Metro’s Crenshaw line to NFL stadium, The Forum
Inglewood wants to build its own elevated transit system to ferry visitors to The Forum, the adjacent NFL stadium opening in 2020 and a potential Clippers arena, officials announced Monday.
The 1.8-mile automatic people mover would start in downtown Inglewood near the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority’s Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line. Under the proposal, the railway would run along Market Street to Manchester Boulevard and then south on Prairie Avenue. It would end at the site of the Clippers’ proposed Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center at Century Boulevard.
Each of the venues along Prairie Avenue would have its own stop. A round-trip could take just 13 minutes, according to a report released by the city.
“Connecting residents, fans, employees, shoppers and patrons to a world-class sports and entertainment district that activates and enhances a full range of employment and entertainment opportunities is the future of Inglewood,” Mayor James Butts said in a statement. “Conducting the needed analysis to get this right for Inglewood residents and visitors is the next step in turning what was once just a vision into operational reality. “
The proposed people mover is estimated to cost more than $600 million to build and an additional $18 million to $20 million annually to operate, according to a report released by the city.
Though no specific funding source exists yet, officials hope to form an Enhanced Infrastructure Finance District to use property tax increment money on the project. Their proposal also would seek a public-private partnership to cover some of the costs, according to the report.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Council approved a proposal to design and build a people mover to connect Metro’s rail system to Los Angeles International Airport. That project would cover 2.25 miles and cost early $5 billion.
The Inglewood City Council has not voted on the idea yet, according to City Manager Artie Fields.
“The People Mover concept is being researched at this point,” Fields in an email. “Various financing and ownership methodologies will be explored as the research continues, and options will be presented to all entities potentially involved, including the City Council.”
Inglewood released a notice of preparation for the project’s draft environmental impact report Monday. Residents can learn more about the proposal at a scoping meeting from 6-8 p.m. July 26 at the Inglewood Senior Center. The city also launched a new website for the proposal at www.envisioninglewood.org. The final EIR will not be ready until late 2019.
Inglewood is developing the potential transit system independently at this point. Metro did not support a proposal to expand its light rail system to cover the Inglewood venues. The regional authority deemed the idea “not feasible due to the costs and operational impacts on the regional system,” the report states. No funds have been earmarked in Measure M, Metro’s transportation measure passed in 2016, or Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan, for Inglewood’s transit system.
Metro’s buses already cover the project’s area, but the existing and planned venues along Prairie Avenue are considered “major traffic generators,” according to Metro. Less costly, at-grade alternatives were not studied because city officials worried the heavy congestion during events would affect the transit service, the report states.
Inglewood’s report suggests the people mover, if developed, could carry up to 2.6 million riders annually, with many of those visitors coming to the city for football games, concerts and other events. The Prairie Avenue corridor is undergoing a major revitalization that began with Madison Square Garden’s multimillion-dollar investment into The Forum in 2012.
Now undergoing construction is an NFL stadium — home to the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers beginning in 2020 and host to the Super Bowl in 2022 — as plans advance for a state-of-the-art arena roughly a mile away from the older venue. Property values have shot up more than 100 percent since 2012, according to the city.
The 75,000-seat Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park is scheduled to open three years before an entertainment district is ready on the same site with new retail, office and living spaces. The Los Angeles Clippers have proposed developing a new arena and headquarters on 27 acres of land just south of the stadium. That project includes additional retail space, outdoor basketball courts and community areas.
The Forum’s owners have sued the city over the competing arena project. They claim Mayor Butts tricked the company’s executives into giving up the rights to the site by promising the land would be used for a technology center instead.
The projects could provide a huge windfall for Inglewood, which has struggled for at least a decade to get its finances in order. This year, Inglewood used $11 million from its reserves to balance the budget. It replenished the reserves, however, and ended the year with a surplus only after refinancing pension obligation bonds.
The stadium and entertainment district alone is expected to generate $1 billion in tourist spending and add up to $28 million annually to the city’s general fund, according to the report.