A gondola between Union Station and Dodger Stadium moved closer to reality Thursday, as Metro signed a letter of intent to formally begin negotiations with the firm that wants to develop it.
Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies -- a company founded by Drew McCourt, son of former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt -- wants to build the privately funded aerial gondola.
McCourt sold the team in 2011, but still owns half-interest in the 130 acres of parking around the stadium.
"This is a critical milestone in developing an innovative and exciting way for Dodgers fans to get to the game while reducing traffic," Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington said. "For the sixth year in a row, the Dodgers have led Major League Baseball in attendance and we want to keep that streak going by finding ways to make it more convenient to reach the stadium."
Metro said the letter of intent signals its interest in implementing the project, and moves it from the unsolicited proposals evaluation stage to project development where the two sides will now negotiate agreements on roles and responsibilities for planning and constructing the gondola.
"The Dodgers are excited that Metro is moving forward with new, innovative ways for people to get to and from Dodger Stadium," said Tucker Kain, chief financial officer of the Los Angeles Dodgers. "We will continue to work with local agencies and community groups on ways to improve the stadium experience for Dodger fans, stadium visitors, employees and local residents."
A gondola and other options for improving access to Dodger Stadium was part of an informational study in 1990 by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, a precursor agency to Metro, but the idea was never pursued beyond the study, Metro said.
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"The signing of a letter of intent with Metro is a critical step in building the gondola between Union Station and Dodger Stadium," ARTT project manager Martha Welborne said. "This privately funded, zero-emission transit line will have the capacity to move thousands of people every hour while reducing traffic and directly linking Dodger Stadium with the region's public transit system. We look forward to working with Metro staff to get the aerial off the ground and fans flying to the stadium in 2022."
Frank McCourt's investment firm would fund a portion of the project's estimated $125 million cost of the Gondola and would seek private financing for the remainder, the Los Angeles Times reported.