Rams owner planning L.A. stadium

ByArash Markazi ESPN logo
Monday, January 5, 2015

LOS ANGELES -- The St. Louis Rams could be headed back to Los Angeles as early as 2016.

A year after purchasing 60 acres of land in Inglewood adjacent to the Forum and Hollywood Park, Rams owner Stan Kroenke has teamed up with the owners of the Hollywood Park site to build an NFL stadium, the Hollywood Park Land Company announced Monday.

Stockbridge Capital Group, which owns the 298-acre Hollywood Park site, already had plans for a mixed-use community on the land that formerly housed the famed thoroughbred racing track, which closed in late 2013.

Signature gathering will begin soon for an initiative that would place the "City of Champions Revitalization Project" on the Inglewood municipal ballot in 2015.

As described in the ballot measure, the project will include a stadium of up to 80,000 seats and a performance venue of up to 6,000 seats while reconfiguring the previously approved Hollywood Park plan for up to 890,000 square feet of retail, 780,000 square feet of office space, 2,500 new residential units, a 300-room hotel and 25 acres of public parks, playgrounds, open space and pedestrian and bicycle access.

The stadium authorized by the ballot measure will be designed by HKS Inc., one of the world's leading firms for the design of sports and entertainment complexes. A successful ballot measure would shorten the time frame for Inglewood's approval of a stadium, and would mean that professional sports could return to Inglewood in 2018.

Many proposed stadium plans have come and gone in the hopes of bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles after the city lost both the Raiders and Rams after the 1994 season, but none of those plans were ever backed by a current NFL owner capable of moving his team into the country's second-largest market.

The Rams are expected to convert their lease at St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome to a year-to-year agreement later this month, and if the team and the city fail to come to an agreement to build a new stadium, the Rams could move back to the area they called home from 1946 to 1994.

"We are excited to unveil an expanded plan that will bring a world-class sports and entertainment district to Hollywood Park," Terry Fancher, founder of Stockbridge, said in a release. "We are committed to working with [the Kroenke Group] to build a project that will put Inglewood back on the map as home of the truly great sports and entertainment venues."

Developers of the project said that no tax dollars would be used for the construction project -- including the stadium and more than 4 million square feet of retail, office, hotel and residential space -- which could be completed by 2018. Before construction can begin, however, the project must pass several political and environmental hurdles and the Rams must, of course, commit to moving back to Los Angeles after the 2015 season.

Any NFL franchise interested in relocating for the next season would have to apply between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15 of that year, according to league bylaws, and prove it has exhausted all attempts to remain in its current location. The earliest a team could relocate to Los Angeles would be January 2016, and that team would likely play in either the L.A. Coliseum or the Rose Bowl until a new stadium is completed.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that no teams would be moving to Los Angeles for the 2015 season.

The two teams that have always made the most sense to relocate to Los Angeles are the last two NFL teams to leave Los Angeles 20 years ago: the Oakland Raiders and the Rams.

The Raiders' lease to play at O.co Coliseum, formerly known as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, has expired, and the team is now on a year-to-year agreement. Meanwhile, the Rams can get out of their lease agreement with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission to play at the Edward Jones Dome, as well.

The third team in play for L.A., the San Diego Chargers, can announce its intention to leave San Diego between Feb. 1 and May 1 of each year through 2020 if it pays an early-termination fee tied to the bonds used to expand Qualcomm Stadium in 1997.

The original plan for Hollywood Park, which is 3 miles east of the Los Angeles International Airport, included the construction of 2,995 homes, 620,000 square feet of retail space and 25 acres of parks. A major park called Champion Park is slated to be constructed as part of the first phase.

There are two other stadium proposals currently on the table for NFL stadiums in Los Angeles. The Anschutz Entertainment Group, the company behind Farmers Field, a proposed $1.5 billion football stadium and convention center expansion in downtown Los Angeles, got a six-month extension in October to its existing agreement with the city of Los Angeles for the project.

AEG requested an extension to allow for additional time to pursue an NFL team and to further assess and develop an alternative development plan for the expansion and modernization of the Los Angeles Convention Center and the potential construction of another large hotel at L.A. Live.

It committed to spend up to $600,000 over the next six months to commission designs for a proposed alternative plan for the convention center expansion and improvement, as well as the possibility of an additional 750-room hotel adjacent to L.A. Live and the Convention Center.

A competing stadium proposed by real estate magnate Ed Roski in the City of Industry, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, has been deemed shovel-ready for years. But as is the case with Farmers Field, it needs a long-term commitment from an NFL team before construction can begin.

Roski's 600 acres in the City of Industry could be used for commercial development if a stadium never materializes. Nearly 20 years ago, NFL owners approved a plan to build a privately financed $200 million stadium in Hollywood Park to keep the Raiders in town after the Rams had already bolted for St. Louis.

The stadium would have been the home of the Raiders, at least two future Super Bowls and potentially a second NFL team. Raiders owner Al Davis, however, balked at the idea of sharing a stadium with a second team and headed back to Oakland.

Two decades later, the NFL could be looking at a return to Los Angeles and to the last, best stadium proposal the city had to keep the NFL in the first place.

Related Video