Rams owner secures land, announces plans to build L.A.-area stadium
A development group that includes a company controlled by the owner of the St. Louis Rams announced plans Monday to build an 80,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles suburbs that could become home for an NFL team.
The proposal that envisions a stadium rising in Inglewood, Calif., on the site of a former horse track again raised the hopes of fans that Los Angeles could end its two-decade drought without an NFL team. It becomes the latest in a string of stadium proposals in the Los Angeles area since the 1994 exit of the Rams and Raiders from Southern California.
The proposal stands out, however, because of the involvement of St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke. His company, The Kroenke Group, has entered a joint venture with Stockbridge Capital Group, which had been developing a 238-acre tract of homes, parks and office space at the former Hollywood Park track in Inglewood, on the edge of Los Angeles.
Kroenke’s company owns an adjacent 60 acres, which would be merged into the overall development. The expanded project would include a stadium, a separate 6,000-seat performance venue and parking.
"This is a perfect location for a venue like this," said Christopher Meany, a senior executive for the joint venture, Hollywood Park Land Co., alluding to its proximity to major freeways, the Los Angeles International Airport and The Forum, the former home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. "I don’t know of a place that compares to this."
A rendering of the project depicts a stadium, shielded by a gently sloping dome, surrounded by palm trees and fountains.
Meany was cautious not to characterize the stadium as an NFL venue, emphasizing that any decision on moving a team is "entirely in the hands of the NFL." He repeatedly referred to the stadium as "multipurpose," also capable of hosting soccer games.
The proposal was first reported Monday by the Los Angeles Times.
The shell of the old racetrack would need to be leveled, and stadium construction is not expected to begin before late this year.
However, its development would hinge on approval by local voters, Meany said.
The plan adds pressure on the city of St. Louis to either strike a deal for a new stadium for the Rams, or watch the team return to Southern California, where it played from 1946 to 1994. The team is unhappy in the Edward Jones Dome, which is outdated by NFL standards.
St. Louis is expected to offer the team a new proposal by the end of the month.
A statement issued by two advisers to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said St. Louis and the state "are ready to demonstrate our commitment to keeping the NFL here."
But according to multiple reports, while the two sides work on a deal to renovate Edward Jones Dome — the Rams’ home since 1997 — they remain hundreds of millions of dollars apart, and area officials aren’t exactly confident the team is staying for the long haul.
"The news today is another reminder of how much competition there can be for National Football League franchises and projects that include NFL stadiums," said the statement from former Anheuser-Busch executive David Peacock and lawyer Robert Blitz.
"It is important to remember this will be a long-term process, but one that the state of Missouri and the St. Louis region are fully pledged to seeing through," the statement said.
The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are also playing in aging stadiums and are considered potential Los Angeles transplants.
The earliest any team could move would be 2016.
Meany made the Inglewood announcement standing outside the shuttered track, where work has been underway razing barns and preparing the site for development.
The city of Los Angeles has been hoping to lure an NFL team to a proposed downtown field. The city’s aspirations are hitched to Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the downtown Staples Center, home of the Lakers and Clippers. Under its deal with City Hall, the company, led by billionaire Philip Anschutz, has until April to sign a football team.
Another stadium project has been discussed for years in the city of Industry, about 20 miles east of downtown.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in late December that no team would relocate to Los Angeles for the 2015 season. But that doesn’t mean the speculation will stop anytime soon.
The NFL has been absent from L.A. since both the Rams and Raiders (Oakland) left the city after the 1994 season.
Last month, FOX NFL Insider Jay Glazer reported the Rams are the clear front-runner to be the team that ultimately ends back up in L.A.
The Raiders, it was reported in the middle of last month, are expected to extend their lease with Oakland to continue playing in the O.co Coliseum through the 2015 season.
As for the Chargers, in December of last year the club announced it would not exercise its lease-termination clause for next season, ensuring the Chargers would play at least one more season in Qualcomm Stadium while the team and the city continue to negotiate a new publicly funded stadium.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.