LA City Planning Commission OKs USC Plans to Develop New Sports Stadium


Photo: ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Planning Commission approved a proposed project Thursday that would replace USC's McAlister Field with a new athletic stadium for the women's soccer and lacrosse teams.

The commission members voted 5-0 with commissioners Samantha Millman, Caroline Choe, Maria Cabildo and Karen Mack were absent during the vote.

Commissioner Jacob Noonan described the proposed stadium as a "very thoughtful project" and expressed his excitement for USC to develop it.

"I think L.A. is in great need of additional recreational facilities from schools and just across the board," Noonan said prior to the vote. "I think the project lays out a very thoughtful approach to doing this, (and) there's been strong community engagement."

USC seeks to develop a three-story stadium with 27,714 square feet of floor area that would have a total occupancy of 2,458 people, according to the project summary. The east side of the stadium would consist of a two-story pavilion level with a height of 15 feet.

A six-foot-tall fence would be installed on the east, north and west sides of the stadium. USC is also seeking a conditional-use permit to allow the sale of beer and wine for on-site consumption during events.

The project, called the Rawlinson Stadium, would also include several amenities, such as locker rooms, training areas, medical center, an audio/visual room and television and radio broadcast areas.

Rawlinson Stadium would replace the existing McAlister Field, located at the corner of 30th and Hoover streets in South L.A., and cost USC approximately $38 million.

USC opened McAlister Field in recognition of Title IX, a federal law mandating equal gender opportunity in education programs and activities. In honor of the "50th anniversary of Title IX," USC is proposing to develop the field into a stadium for its women's soccer and lacrosse teams, according to a report from the Department of City Planning.

During public comment of Thursday's meeting, a large group of USC athletes and staff showed their support for the proposed project and urged the commission to approve it.

Kate Gerrity, a sophomore on the women's lacrosse team, said the stadium will be a "game changer" for lacrosse in L.A. County and across Southern California.

Brian Gomez, who described himself as a third-generation member of the local community and a neighbor of the stadium, said it's important to invest on the successes that can expand through the rest of the neighborhood, especially as the World Cup and Olympics come to L.A.

"Both the women's soccer and women's lacrosse teams compete at the highest levels, and this facility will provide a world class experience for (athletes) and the spectators that come to support them," Lindsey Munday, head coach of women's lacrosse, told the commissioners.

"The stadium also shows the commitment from USC athletics to women's sports and the female student athletes that sit here before you, although I do feel like these girls truly deserve this stadium and this opportunity," she added.

Though there was a lot of support for the stadium, a few members of the public expressed their opposition, including Philip Augustus, a representative of SEIU Local 721, which represents more than 10,000 public sector workers in the city of Los Angeles, including more than 100 USC employees.

He recounted issues with the project, which included the environmental impact review, noting it was more than 10 years old; and the ways in which the stadium could increase USC's student enrollment while the university faces a lack of student housing.

"The community has continually seen both in labor and our community partners that USC continues expansion and building of student luxury housing, as well as luxury developments around its campus," Augustus said. "It has continued to push out both our members and the community. We want a community impact report and continued dialogue with USC on its expansion and lack of community engagement."

A USC representative said that the project would not impact student enrollment and the project would not be developed on a parcel of land zoned for housing.

City Planning member Stephanie Escobar emphasized that the project is just for "modernization."

The project will now head to the L.A. City Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee for further consideration at a future date

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