No, Los Angeles still doesn’t have a football team, but a football stadium planned for its downtown just inched closer to reality. Yesterday, Mayor Villaraigosa, development company AEG, and Farmers Insurance announced the $700 million naming rights for a new stadium and convention center complex planned near existing Staples Center. In a few years our NFL team may be playing on Farmers Field.
There are obvious financial benefits, of course, to selling the naming rights so early for a project that has not been approved, for a team that does not exist (the stadium design hasn’t even been decided yet). But I think there’s another benefit to the name Farmers Field. It’s the perfect opportunity for Los Angeles to show its commitment to urban agriculture.
The name Farmers Field is actually incredibly appropriate for L.A. Agriculture is the business that L.A. was built on—the Farmers Insurance company started here in 1928 to provide lower premiums to L.A. farmers and ranchers. Up until the 1950s most of the country’s produce was grown right here in Los Angeles County. People moved here with dreams of planting one of the citrus orchards that used to blanket the L.A. basin. The agricultural theme evoking L.A. history can carry through the stadium design with a massive grove of orange trees surrounding the stadium. They can be juiced for pre-game mimosas, provide shade for tailgaters, and help feed hungry downtown residents.
But let’s not stop there. Let’s use the acres of parking lots surrounding the stadium to build an actual farm in the heart of downtown that would engage the community on more than eight days a year. GOOD just helped to build a school garden about a mile away from the site, which helped to illustrate the need for greenspace for students. Farmers Field could be an agricultural center that serves as a giant community garden for local schools, who can tend plots alongside NFL players, as they learn about health and nutrition.
Farmers Field could also be a place for local farmers to engage with residents. That farmers market which was planned as part of the Staples Center construction but never materialized? It’s a natural at Farmers Field, where stalls built to sell produce could be used to sell merchandise during games. And forget sourcing far-flung produce for game-time refreshments: Farmers Field could serve the first 100 percent local menu in the NFL, with detailed information about ingredients and the farmers that produced them. (Although not sure where they’ll get the nacho cheese.)
After kickoff, there’s the potential power of broadcasting a functioning urban farm into millions of homes each weekend. The televised games would essentially serve as three-hour advertisements for locally-produced food. Wouldn’t this shining example of urban agriculture be a great tool for showcasing what’s possible for urban agriculture, inspiring cities across the country? Can’t you just hear John Madden describing the acres of green, leafy kale?
In the off-season, according to the stadium’s plan, the stadium itself will be used for events and conventions, hoping to bring in additional revenue. But a football-field’s worth of raised beds could certainly turn a hefty profit, and provide the city with another popular summertime destination for tourists, plus thousands of jobs. Farmers Field could not only be one of the most sustainable stadiums in the country, it could be the Disneyland of urban farming. If you build it, they will come.
Now, about getting that NFL team. Who would play at Farmers Field? It would have to be a farm animal, right?
Hey! The Los Angeles Rams!