Who Says LA’s Not a Football/Transit Town?
September 6, 2012 Leave a comment
When I think of the great things that have happened in my world so far this year, there are a few that immediately come to mind… Aside from getting engaged (which obviously tops the list), it’s hard not to recognize the greatness of the Metro Expo Line opening and the USC football season starting.
When the Expo Line opened in April, it dramatically changed the way I commute to work from Downtown LA to Culver City. It gave me time to read every day, something I had seriously been missing, and put me on my bike at the end of the ride, getting me out in the beautiful Los Angeles weather, if only for a few minutes each day. It also saved me a ton of gas money, stress, and wear & tear on my car. And it wasn’t just for work, I’ve written before about some of the great adventures I’ve had on the Expo Line. Ridership is already above predictions for this point in time, and on it’s way to meeting projections far into the future. It’s crowded even late into the night… And yet people say LA isn’t a transit town.
So, here we are in September now, with the dawn of another great football season. Of course, USC Football starts every year, but this year is special. I haven’t been this excited for football season in a long time. Coming off of a two year bowl ban, USC opened the season ranked #1, and played a great game against Hawaii to start 1-0. There’s a good chance they could go undefeated, or close to it, this year and play in the National Championship Game. Three games (including last weekend’s season opener) are already sold out (over 93,000 tickets each), and at least two of the remaining three look to be so soon… And yet people say LA isn’t a football town.
The best part of all this, however, is the way in which these two things relate to each other. This week marked the first time you could take rail transit to a USC Football game in over 50 years (see a photo from the previous era, here). Metro is reporting that about 8,000 people took the Expo Line to the game. That’s over 16,000 boardings on the line just for the game (which is not far below the average amount for an entire regular day!), and they say that many of these riders transferred to other lines or busses as well, resulting in about 22,000 systemwide boardings related directly to the football game. The Source has some more details and photos, here.
The 8,000 riders represent over 8.5% of the total announced attendance of 93,607. Though the game was a sellout, there were clearly (as with any sold out event) some seats open throughout, and I’d push that percentage up even a little higher. This is great for the first time! There are 5 more home games, and I have no doubt that actual ridership, as well as the total percentage of fans who arrive via the Expo Line, will continue to grow.
I took the Red Line and the Expo Line to get there, and it was a breeze. Customer service reps were everywhere for riders less well versed in riding the trains, and crowd control around the Expo Park/USC crossing was superb.
All of this proves that yes, Metro can handle the crush of crowds that enter or leave big events in small time periods, fans are willing to take Metro to sporting events, and LA loves to watch a football game. Put a good team on the field and you’ll have thousands of people willing to show up by train and watch them play. These numbers will only go up.
Also this week, Tim Leiweke updated followers of Farmers Field on the project’s status. The stadium, like the Coliseum, would be situated one block from the Expo Line (and the Blue Line, and only a few from the Red and Purple Lines). Here’s a quote, and you can watch the whole video below.
It cannot be just a standalone stadium. This must be fully integrated into urban planning that not only gives us every chance to use mass transportation… but takes the economic wins from that football stadium to create other economic projects…
To anyone who says LA isn’t a transit town or isn’t a football town… It ain’t the 90′s anymore. LA really is becoming both a transit town and a football town.