On-Campus Football Stadium Issue

There have been many reasons cited over the years why UCLA won't built an on-campus football stadium. But what's the real reason why a stadium won't be built?

After hearing incoming Athletic Director Dan Guerrero state emphatically at his press conference that the chances of UCLA building an on-campus football stadium were very remote, the question again presents itself: Why?

Over the years, various reasons have been bandied about why UCLA couldn't build an on-campus stadium. Outgoing AD Pete Dalis said at the announcement of his retirement last year that it was primarily because of money. Dalis and others have cited the fact that in the ‘70s, the students voted down an on-campus stadium in a referendum. Chancellor Albert Carnesale, at Guerrero's introductory press conference, cited a lack of space on campus. One of the most popular, long-running reasons is the power of the homeowners around campus, that they would use their influence to not allow a stadium to be built.

When it comes to the money issue, sources have said that acquiring the funds to build the stadium would be a challenge, but one that many close to the situation believe could be accomplished. In the age of corporate sponsorship, it's believed that UCLA would be able to secure enough funding to build an on-campus stadium.

The student referendum excuse is irrelevant. Whatever the students voted down in the ‘70s, from what sources indicate now, doesn't pertain in 2002.

The excuse of a lack of space on campus has a degree of validity to it, but not much, according to sources. Drake Stadium was built with the idea of a possible expansion into a football stadium in mind. Its foundation was built to accommodate expansion, primarily a second deck and a press box. Drake has easily enough space on both ends to build an oval stadium, one with two decks on both sides, that many think would be able to accommodate upwards of 60,000 people. The track would have to be relocated, which could present a problem, but a source said that there are a couple of potential locations around campus that could accommodate a smaller track stadium, with a little creativity. Once the intramural field underground parking structure is built there will be ample parking in and around campus to accommodate a game-day crowd, according to sources. It's conceded that the traffic situation wouldn't be great, considering that the UCLA campus becomes clogged for a UCLA basketball game. But it's believed that with shuttles utilizing remote parking areas, such as the V.A. lot, while access to campus might not be ideal, it would be tolerable, given that in return UCLA fans were getting an on-campus stadium. Over the years, sources say, UCLA has quietly conducted projection and impact studies in the area, for what many believe could only be an on-campus stadium.

The potential traffic problem, though, is more of a snag for the on-campus stadium plan as it relates to the local homeowners. Traffic, noise, pollution, vandalism, etc., would impact the area to a degree. And, after talking with various sources close to the situation, it's pretty clear that the real roadblock to building an on-campus stadium is not really the money or on-campus space, but the anticipated resistance by local Bel-Air homeowners. Some of the wealthiest and most powerful residents in the Los Angeles area live within a few miles of UCLA's campus, and it's generally accepted that they would present considerable resistance if UCLA were to propose building a stadium on campus. While money, space and other issues contribute to the overall problems facing a potential on-campus stadium, the most substantial, according to sources, is the anticipated resistance of the local, powerful homeowners.

UCLA officials will not publicly admit the primary problem are the local residents, and have attributed it to the other issues to diminish any potential controversy, according to many.

It's a tragedy, too. If you've been to Drake Stadium lately, either for a track event, soccer game or football scrimmage, you'll recognize that the area would be idyllic for an on-campus football stadium. It is walking distance from the dorms, which would make it quite a bit easier for students to attend games. The area, overlooking the campus, is very picturesque, and the weather is far more agreeable than Pasadena. Plus, having a stadium on campus would drastically increase on-campus revenue. And it would provide such an infusion of excitement and support into the football program.

The sources I spoke with, though, almost all scoffed when I brought up the subject of an on-campus football stadium. From their collective perspective, it is currently a very remote possibility.

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