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Forget Talk of Cost, Planned Lakers Parade Strikes Out on Route

By Eric Richardson
Published: Sunday, June 14, 2009, at 02:34PM
Figueroa Eric Richardson [Flickr]

South of Downtown, Figueroa is lined with strip malls, auto dealerships and fast food.

The Los Angeles Lakers won their 15th NBA title on Sunday evening, closing out the Orlando Magic in five games. Once the celebrations and stupidity calms down, attention will turn to the victory parade, scheduled for 11am on Wednesday.

Looking for 2010 parade info? Check out our story from the night of the Lakers' 16th NBA Championship win.

While much attention was paid to the cost of the parade, which the team and city will now split, little talk has been given to the route chosen, which starts at Staples Center and ends at the Coliseum.

Are strip malls and car dealerships really the visuals Los Angeles wants to feature in its celebration?

Despite the initial balking over costs, it was always a given that someone would find the money for a parade. That is simply what cities do. If their team wins, they celebrate.

But is that stretch of Figueroa really the right venue for the hundreds of thousands of fans expected for a championship parade?

When the Lakers won their back-to-back-to-back titles in 200, 2001 and 2002, the celebrations were held Downtown.

In 2002, the celebration began with a ceremony at City Hall, then traveled south to 2nd street and through the tunnel before proceeding south on Figueroa to Staples Center.

In both 2000 and 2001, the DWP building at 1st and Hope was the starting point, with the caravan jogged over to Figueroa before heading south to Staples.

In each case, the parade route passed the sights one expects from a city: skyscrapers, plazas and a sea of people.

While the stretch of Figueroa south of Staples might someday be a vibrant connection linking USC to Downtown, it is far from that today. It's a stretch lined by car dealerships, strip malls and fast food.

That's a tired image of Los Angeles. Our city has made huge strides in its effort to grow up and act like a real, urban place. Why would we want to not highlight that progress?

Logistics also make the Coliseum route questionable. Downtown is the center of the public transportation system. The immigration marches of 2006 showed off the way in which the rail lines can get a massive number of people into the heart of the city even when the roads are backed up. We should be using that system instead of traveling away from it.

Steve Harvey has a great column today talking about past victory celebrations. He notes that the city named the southern steps of City Hall the Plaza of Champions during the celebrations of the 1980s.

The Lakers ... prefer holding their victory parties at Staples these days. If they win, their parade will start at Staples and fast-break south to the Coliseum.

Meanwhile, the Plaza of Champions at City Hall is largely forgotten -- not even a plaque marks the site.

It seems foolish to hold out the hope that plans could be changed at this point, but that is what I will do. This parade needs to happen, and it needs to happen Downtown.


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