It seems to be a neck-and-neck race for the opening, with LA.B, a bouldering-only gym, slightly in the lead. Both are scheduled to open in Winter, but I think that Stronghold will have a significantly larger challenge with the construction schedule for multiple reasons, but mainly because of the added amenities (lead and top rope) and because they started a couple weeks later than LA.B. Additionally, Stronghold chose to set up shop in a historic building, specifically, an old steam power plant within the *now* LA Brewery Arts Complex. A little birdie told me that they ran into some issues with permits, however it seems to be resolved now.
For me, the decision is going to be easy. I prefer sport climbing, so Stronghold is where I will spend my money. After the precursory visit to check out LA.B, it is unlikely I will spend much time there. They had an open house yesterday, October 8th, and I heard pretty great things about the space. So, by all means, I could be proven wrong. It's been known to happen before.
So the big question on my mind is: can both gyms survive downtown? The even bigger question, can these two gyms survive in the land of Rockreation West LA and Costa Mesa, Sender One in Orange County, Boulderdash in Thousand Oaks, Hangar 18, and more? The gym that faces the largest threat is undoubtedly Rockreation's West LA location, as many climbers are currently commuting from the valley and downtown. I can't imagine that those commuters will continue to pledge their loyalty to Rockreation when newer and, in the situation with Stronghold, TALLER gyms are closer proximity.
My climbing partner, Mollie, and I visited Sender One a few weeks ago. It was really, really fun. What makes a climbing gym more fun than another? Well, if you are new to climbing, potentially nothing. But for those of us who spend time in the same gym, week after week, year after year... just a simple change of terrain makes a big difference. New and textured holds make a big difference. Taller walls, whether you are a sport climber or boulderer, make a big difference. It's just fun to get out of the comforts of your regular gym.
More information on both gyms can be found online:
LA.B - https://www.facebook.com/laboulders
Stronghold - https://www.facebook.com/StrongholdClimbing (AND) http://www.strongholdclimb.com
See below for a preview of what we can expect from both gyms (click on any image to enlarge). I truly can't wait!