In 2018, when the Dodger Stadium gondola was first proposed, the cost was estimated at $125 million. On Monday, an environmental impact report projected the cost at up to $500 million.
The report sets the stage for a series of votes and regulatory hurdles on the project, starting at Metro early next year and continuing to Los Angeles City Hall, the California Department of Transportation and California State Parks. If approved, the gondola would connect Union Station to Dodger Stadium on a seven-minute ride, with the grand opening targeted for 2028 — just in time for the Olympics.
The governmental hearings on the project could well be dominated by issues the 3,700-page report did not address, including whether there would be guarantees that taxpayer funding would not be used and whether community leaders and elected officials would be comfortable approving a project that pledges no development in the Dodger Stadium parking lots now but does not rule it out in the future.
Nathan Click, a spokesman for project sponsor Zero Emissions Transit, said more details of the financing will emerge in the coming months: “We look forward to sharing more as ZET’s planning progresses and the state and city processes move forward.”
The gondola would cost $385 million to $500 million to build and another $8 million to $10 million per year to operate and maintain, according to the report. Those costs, it said, could be covered by private bond financing, sponsorships, naming rights and fares — although ZET promises fans can ride free to Dodger games.
Click declined to specify how much money ZET believes sponsorships and naming rights can generate. He also would not say whether promoters would agree to a binding guarantee that taxpayer funds would not be used, if expenses should exceed revenue.
The report acknowledged community concern about the perceived inevitability of major development in the parking lot — homes, hotels, restaurants, shops and the like — but said the gondola proposal is strictly a transit project and should be evaluated as such, in the absence of evidence “that there is an intention to proceed with a larger, more grandiose project in the future.”
Any such project would be subject to city planning and zoning restrictions, the report said. Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who retains half-ownership of the stadium lots and has championed development there in the past, first proposed the gondola.
Metro, the report said, “is not required to analyze a broader scheme or otherwise attribute a motive to an applicant based on speculation from commenters regarding a potential future action. Evaluation of future environmental effects should wait for the decisions that could cause those effects.”
Source: LA Times