Good Morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. Sunday is my mother- and father-in-law’s wedding anniversary, though it will be more commonly celebrated as the first time in 29 years that Los Angeles has hosted a Super Bowl. With that in mind, let’s look back at the week in Opinion.
More accurately, it’s the city of Inglewood, home of the brand new SoFi Stadium, that will host the Super Bowl between the hometown Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals, and the precise location is important to note. Inglewood — not Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica or El Segundo — will get the 70,000-plus rabid football fans and their cars, the crush of media coverage and the massive influx of whatever else will cash in without caring much about what’s left behind .
Think of the frenzy about to descend on Inglewood as a supercharged version of what’s already been happening almost every Sunday in that densely packed nine-square mile municipality since the NFL season began in September — and yes, that’s every Sunday instead of every other, because SoFi is the home field of two teams and doesn’t have the luxury of biweekly downtime enjoyed in most other football cities. Sunday will be what Inglewood has already endured, only there will be more fans, more pre- and post-game revelry, more unwanted disruption.
Unwanted? Well maybe, and we don’t know for sure because no one asked the residents of Inglewood if they were OK with nearly doubling their city’s population on Sundays before stadium construction was greenlighted in 2016. Longtime Inglewood denizen Erin Aubry Kaplan took to The Times’ op-ed page this week to remind Super Bowl watchers of what they won’t see in her community Sunday:
“The traffic on game days is beyond horrendous. It’s so impenetrable, you may be imprisoned in your corner of the city. Unless you time things just right, driving to a nearby grocery store and back takes an hour or more.
“A big part of the problem is parking. There isn’t enough of it at SoFi, and the fees are prohibitive, so fans find spots all over the city and walk to the stadium. Usually quiet neighborhoods like mine are jammed with people and cars in the hours leading up to events and in the hours after. Inglewood is taken over, literally, by tens of thousands of visitors, and there is little we can do about it….”
“Beverly Hills, Redondo Beach and Santa Monica aren’t home to giant sports and entertainment complexes. Those cities don’t want to disrupt their quality of life and sense of civic identity — things Inglewood is presumed to not have. They know that the real prize is not having a multibillion-dollar structure but having the power to say no to one. (In Inglewood, another is on the way: The Intuit Dome, a $1.5-billion arena that will house the LA Clippers, is going up about a quarter-mile away from SoFi. No one asked me about that either.)”
I highlight Kaplan’s piece not only because she’s a gripping, insightful writer, but also to draw attention to the real impact these mega-profitable extravaganzas have on the people who live nearby — people often not moneyed enough to afford even a regular-season Rams ticket , let alone a “cheap” $3,000 seat at the Super Bowl. Cities eager to build expensive stadiums to lure things like football teams and Olympic events rarely recoup their investment. Less obvious are the neighborhood-level burdens forced onto residents, ranging from traffic mayhem in a place like Inglewood to historical racial injustices in, well, Elysian Park.
All this might come across as griping by another ink-stained wretch, another media elite trying to make it rain on everyone’s parade, and maybe it is. But rest assured that we’ll get more Super Bowls in Inglewood and (God willing) more World Series games north of downtown LA; others aren’t as lucky. The residents of SoFi Stadium-adjacent will likely never get their streets back on a Sunday, and the ghosts of Chavez Ravine sure aren’t getting their homes back.
And yes, I’ll be watching the game Sunday. Go Rams.
Who said Odell Beckham Jr needed redemption? The Rams wide receiver is flashy, a fierce competitor and sometimes prickly — a diva, maybe, but what superstar athlete isn’t? He’s not a bad guy, and the narrative that his success with the Rams atones for whatever grievous sins he committed in his past is more reflective of the predominantly white gaze of sports journalism than anything Beckham has done, writes columnist LZ Granderson. LA Times
The idea that sex trafficking spikes because of the Super Bowl is a dangerous myth. Yes, we need to be reminded that human trafficking is a persistent problem that deserves our attention, but the idea that a mega-event like the Super Bowl is a magnet for such activity is a self-serving falsehood pushed by law enforcement, says The Times Editorial Board: “Such falsehoods can lead us to misspend our resources and misplace our attention on costly but pointless Halloween police crackdowns on sex offenders, for example, and on operations to seek out human trafficking offenses at the Super Bowl but not during the rest of the year.” LA Times
The LAPD chief doesn’t see it that way. In a letter to the editor responding to the editorial, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel R. Moore wrote: “Times readers deserve more from your editorial board than cynicism and your insulting declaration that law enforcement promotes these ‘myths’ because it’s good for business . Comparing law enforcement’s description of the reality of increased sex trafficking during mega events to lies about the coronavirus, stolen elections and QAnon is offensive.” LA Times
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Eliminating all traffic deaths is a worthy goal. Impossible, but worthy. It’s been nearly seven years since LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city’s “Vision Zero” goal of eliminating all traffic deaths — and fatalities are up (yes, even during the pandemic, when fewer cars have been on the road). The problem is our cars are larger and safer for the occupants, but the danger has been pushed outside onto defenseless pedestrians. It also doesn’t help that our roads are not designed for the safety of non-drivers, writes Robin Abcarian. LA Times
Biden’s border surveillance empire should scare you regardless of politics. This isn’t quite what we had in mind after we moved on from the “build the wall” president: “President Biden largely halted construction on his predecessor’s border wall, which Democrats decried as inhumane. But he never stopped the Department of Homeland Security from using the border as a testing ground for dystopian military and surveillance technologies — including, most recently, headless robot dogs.” LA Times