Ex-Homeland Security Chief Warns of Terrorist “Twofer” if Inglewood Builds Stadium

Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Tom Ridge

The city of Inglewood, former home of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Fabulous Forum and a sizeable middle class, has faced a lot of obstacles over the decades, and suffered a lot of indignities. But it wasn’t publicly labeled a terrorist threat—by a former Homeland Security (DHS) chief—until it tried to land an NFL franchise.

A report (pdf) being circulated by ex-DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, and obtained by the Los Angeles Times, warns that if Inglewood goes ahead with plans to build a $1.86-billion stadium, its close proximity to  Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), around 3 miles, would present a “terrorist event ‘twofer.’ ”    

Ridge Global, the former Pennsylvania governor’s consulting firm, was commissioned to do the report by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which has had a rival plan to build a stadium complex downtown for more than a decade.

The report surfaced just days after the Inglewood City Council fast-tracked construction of the stadium at Hollywood Park in a development deal that includes Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams. It would be ready for the 2018 season if they broke ground in December.

That is the kind of projection that has been heard countless times since the Raiders and Rams left town in 1995.

The Seattle Seahawks were coming in 1996. A new NFL franchise was coming in 1999 and rumors had the Indianapolis Colts interested in 2001.  Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and former owner Peter O’Malley mused in 2005 about building another stadium in Chavez Ravine. The Rose Bowl was on everyone’s lips in 2006 with links to the San Francisco ‘49ers. The City of Industry was hot in 2009 as a possible stadium venue for the ‘49ers or the Raiders or at least seven other teams.   

That is less than half of Wikipedia’s compendium of stadium-related negotiations between billionaires, governments and other billionaires over which millionaires will be allowed to attend the Super Bowl. The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers announced a week ago that they would build a $1.7-billion stadium in Carson and move their teams. Maybe.

The report is not a “technical assessment,” although Ridge says in the introduction “a more in-depth, all-hazard risk assessment” was a good idea for the future. “It would most likely identify additional concerns” to those raised by his report’s “resurrection of post-911 scenarios” and other scary tales.

Remember the “Shoe Bomber” on December 22, 2001? He was pretty scary. So was the “Underwear Bomber” on Christmas Day in 2009. Now we know people can hide non-metallic explosive devices inside their bodies and fly on airplanes. Which is why we need drone strikes and must remain on high alert.

And don’t forget the “credible threat” of Libyan arms that were never found after the 2011 revolution. They’re blowing up things in Ukraine and Israel. Disappointingly, there was no mention of Benghazi in the report.

It is pretty compelling reading.    

“It is my opinion,” the bold-face conclusion ungrammatically warns, “that the peril of placing a National Football League stadium in the direct flight path of LAX—layering risk—outweigh [sic] any benefits.”     

If something bad does happen in the future, we’ll know who to blame: “state and local leaders, and those they represent.”

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Former Homeland Security Head Calls Proposed Inglewood NFL Stadium a "Terrorist Event Twofer" (by Scott M. Reid, Orange County Register)

AEG Report Warns Rival Inglewood NFL Stadium Presents Terrorist Threat (by Sam Farmer and Nathan Fenno, Los Angeles Times)

Study Warns Proposed NFL Stadium in Los Angeles Could Inspire Terrorism (by Marissa Payne, Washington Post)

Inglewood Mayor Blasts Terrorist Risk Report of NFL Stadium (by Josh Peter, USA Today)

Layering Risk: A Review of the Potential Siting of a National Football League Stadium near Los Angeles International Airport (Ridge Global) (pdf)

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