Monday, January 15, 2007

David Beckham as LA Culture

When we created ExperienceLA to promote LA culture and public transit on the Internet, it included sports as culture, so as to promote public transit to and from Staples Center, while attending basketball, ice hockey, arena football, and other indoor sports that find their way into downtown Los Angeles. ExperienceLA has also brought attention to sporting events at the Home Depot Center in Carson such as MLS soccer, the U.S. men's and women's national team visits, the X Games, and even lacrosse. The recent signing of David Beckham to the Galaxy will have a major impact on the sports culture in LA, both in the short term and the long term. And I predict that David Beckham will most likely be appearing in a Galaxy uniform before the promised August 2007 date, as he is not even sitting on the bench at Real Madrid, as he is watching from the stands. The man wants to play soccer, and not be a spectator at Real Madrid.

Yes, David Beckham and his Spice Girl wife, Victoria Beckham, will be the hot Hollywood couple, but the attention of the soccer world on LA is going to take the sport to an even higher spectator and participation level, but more profoundly, on another generation of youth players. Starting at the lowest levels of recreational youth soccer, you will see a major surge in sign-ups this Fall, similar to what happened with the surge in young girls signing up for soccer with the rise of Mia Hamm and the US women's soccer team. But the difference is going to be is that there is already a huge number of youth playing recreational and club level soccer, along with all of the activity within the various ethnic leagues. Local governments throughout Southern California are already dealing with not enough active recreational space, and the enormous demand for soccer fields. Thus, one long-term outcome of the David Beckham signing will be to help increase the amount of recreational park space dedicated to soccer. The demand from youth and adults is already great, and it is just going to increase. Demand will increase supply, as State and local recreational grant funds are leveraged to produce more and better soccer fields over the next decade.

As a result of David Beckham, all Galaxy games will be sold out, including the grassy knoll. Thus, parking is going to be an issue, and I am sure we will see various measures put in place that were used for the Women's World Cup and other high profile events at the Home Depot Center. Cal State University Dominquez Hills can't accomodate all of the parking required for a sold-out event. Thus, we have seen shuttles used from the Carson Mall. However, wouldn't it be fun to have party buses departing from a central location such as Union Station after arriving on public transit using Metro? I remember the old London double-decker buses being rented when Manchester United came to the Coliseum several years ago, to bring fans in from Pasadena to the Coliseum. At the news conference, the Galaxy mentioned that Chelsea would be coming to HDC sometime in the future. That will be the really hot ticket for the soccer community. David Beckham versus some of his former English team national mates such as Frank Lampard along with Chelsea's international cast of elite players. I am a big soccer fan, and I thank AEG for making all of this possible. And the picture above is me and my daughter on opening day of the Galaxy at HDC in June 2003. Getting a ticket to the first Galaxy game with David Beckham will be a cherished memory for the lucky 27,000 who will be there.

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