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Whittier Narrows Dam Project Will Cause the Loss of the Sports Arena and Other Significant Community Assets

May 1, 2024

The city is set to lose a hub of community events and celebrations along with the city’s only golf course and its 68-year-old youth baseball program.

The City of Pico Rivera has announced significant and critical losses of valuable community assets and jobs resulting from the necessary Whittier Narrows Dam Safety Repair Project.

The Whittier Narrows Dam, an integral part of the Los Angeles County Drainage Area (LACDA) flood control system, has been deemed in need of critical repairs to prevent significant flooding by the Army Corps of Engineers. While crucial for enhancing the dam’s safety and reliability, this project has had several adverse consequences for the City of Pico Rivera.

The most significant impact is the loss of a substantial portion of the city’s park space, including the iconic Pico Rivera Sports Arena, the city’s only golf course, and the city’s baseball fields.

This loss represents a staggering 57% of all park space in the city, significantly reducing the ratio of park space per 1,000 persons from 1.3 to 0.9 acres. To put this into perspective, the county average is 3.3 acres per 1,000 people, and the national average is 6 acres. This loss of park space, which is a severe blow to the city’s recreational resources and the quality of life for its residents, cannot be overstated.

The Pico Rivera Sports Arena.

The closure of these facilities will affect the city’s cultural and recreational landscape and result in significant economic losses. This will have far-reaching financial implications for its residents and local businesses, including job losses ranging from 150-300 tied to the arena and 40-60 tied to the municipal golf course. The revenue losses will be substantial, potentially leading to a significant downturn in the city’s economic growth and prosperity. 

The loss of the Pico Rivera Sports Area would include:

  • Loss of an iconic venue for rodeos, concerts, and other events: The arena is famous for hosting rodeos, particularly Mexican charreadas, and other cultural events for the Hispanic community in Los Angeles. Its closure would leave a gap for these events.
  • Furthermore, the arena’s closure could have a ripple effect on local businesses. Events at the arena bring revenue for local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, which its closure could significantly impact.
  • Loss of a cultural landmark: The arena has been around since 1979 and is known as the country’s most prominent Mexican rodeo ring. It holds significance for the community, and its closure would be a loss for many local and regional residents.

With the elimination of Streamland Park, the city will also lose its major 68-year-old youth baseball program. Streamland Park has been the home to the Pico Boys Baseball League and the hundreds of young players who sign up each year to play during the Spring. Over the last few years, the program has grown to a year-round program with a Spring and Winter Season.

The league had grown so much over the past 15 years that two fields were added to the eastern portion of the park to accommodate the younger players. Pico Boys accounted for approximately 200 to 300 participants each season. Pico Boys is pretty much a generational baseball league. Many families have grown up around it. Many have played through each of the five age divisions and come back later to coach. 

In response to these challenges, the City of Pico Rivera has undertaken a robust revitalization program valued at $125 million. This comprehensive initiative seeks federal funding to mitigate the losses, save the Sports Arena, seize development opportunities, and make strategic public infrastructure investments.

The city’s revitalization program also aims to create new parks, trails, open spaces, and recreation facilities, catalyze economic development along the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo, and establish a national manufacturing zone focusing on sustainable development.

“As we face the potential loss of valuable community assets due to the Whittier Narrows Dam Safety Modification Project, we are reminded of the resilience and strength of Pico Rivera,” said Pico Rivera Mayor Andrew Lara. “While the potential closure of the Pico Rivera Sports Arena and our municipal golf course represents a significant loss for our city, we are committed to navigating these challenges and emerging stronger than ever. Through our revitalization program and continued efforts to secure funding, we aim to mitigate these losses and seize new opportunities for growth and development. Together, we will build a brighter future for Pico Rivera, fueled by hope, determination, and a shared vision for our community.”

Despite the challenges posed by the dam project, Pico Rivera remains united, resilient, and determined. Through these initiatives, the city aims to address these challenges and create a resilient and thriving community for the future, instilling a sense of hope and optimism in its residents.