Opponents of proposed Dodger Stadium gondola protest ahead of upcoming public hearings

Supporters and opponents of a proposed aerial transit project that would connect Dodger Stadium with downtown Los Angeles gathered in Chinatown Wednesday, days before L.A. Metro is set to begin its latest round of hearings regarding the project.

The Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit (ARTT) is a suspended gondola system that would connect the baseball stadium to Union Station and Chinatown at Los Angeles State Historic Park.

The gondola is a privately funded zero-emissions transit project that has drawn support from local businesses and transit activists, but has received equal opposition from those whose homes will be underneath the proposed suspended pathways and those with concerns about parking congestion near the gondola stations on game days.

If ultimately built, L.A. Metro says the system could transport up to 5,000 people per hour each direction on game days in a 1.2-mile journey that takes about seven minutes. Traveling to and from Dodger Stadium is a major headache for many Angelenos, with few nearby public transit options and bumper-to-bumper traffic for drivers.

The vast majority of stadium visitors drive and park, with some utilizing residential roadways to avoid paying stadium parking fees. Metro also operates a bus that transports passengers to the stadium for free on game days.

Metro says ARTT would reduce greenhouse gases and provide a safe alternative to driving, while giving residents in the area more daily transportation options.

But the project has seen opposition from residents who worry it will ruin views, fly too low near its stations and encourage drivers to park in neighborhoods where little street parking is available as-is.

“The gondola doesn’t make any sense for Dodger Stadium,” said Phyllis Ling, founder of Stop the Gondola, a group devoted to bringing an end to the project. “It doesn’t have the capacity to serve Dodger Stadium where everyone is trying to get there or leave at the same time.”

Ling said her organization has “huge concerns” about the planning of the project, particularly its flying height in the Chinatown neighborhood where it’s expected to rise only about 50 feet at its lowest point.

The group also disagrees with Metro’s assertion that it would alleviate traffic and provide a zero-emissions alternative to driving.

The project is the brainchild of former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his son, Drew, whose company would privately finance and construct the system, while Metro would be responsible for planning the logistics. Ling’s organization says it’s concerned that the project could go over budget and leave the taxpayers on the hook for unexpected bills, like maintenance and repairs.

Despite local opposition, supporters are still advocating for the project to move forward and trying to sell L.A. residents on the prospect of taking the skyway to Dodger Stadium.

David Grannis is executive director of Zero Emissions Transit, the nonprofit leading the project. He hopes the speed of the trip and the unparalleled views will be enough to win over those on the fence about the project.

“I think it’s a great way to go to the stadium, it’s iconic, you get these great views of Los Angeles and it’s a seven-minute ride,” Grannis said. “How quick can you get to Dodger Stadium?”

Many public transportation advocates and enthusiasts are split on the project, with many balking at the thought of a private endeavor preferring a system funded and operated exclusively by Metro. Others have advocated for a light-rail system with a higher capacity and dedicated Metro station at Dodger Stadium, but a project like that would cost significantly more and would take years longer to build.

The L.A. Metro Board will have late-stage environmental impact hearings about the proposed project in the coming days, both online and in-person.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KTLA.