Sam Farmer of the LA Times reported late today that Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased a 60-acre parking lot situated between The Forum and Hollywood Park in Inglewood.
Farmer lays out the myriad complications that could arise if Kroenke tried to move the Rams back to Los Angeles. While 60 acres in hand is always good to have, there’s still the question of who would pick up the tab for the $1 billion or more in construction cost. The NFL has had a tepid response to two other NFL stadium initiatives by AEG (Farmers Field) and Majestic Realty (City of Industry), mainly because both developers have wanted stakes in prospective relocating franchises. In the Rams’ case, Kroenke could build it himself with the NFL’s help, though public funding in Inglewood is a nonstarter. It would take an enormous amount of corporate and upfront support to make it work, a recipe that yielded great results for the 49ers. That shouldn’t be an issue in a market the size of LA, but the market is a notoriously fickle place when it comes to pro football. Kroenke could even run into interference from the likes of USC and UCLA, who have the local football landscape to themselves with no pro team as competition.
Speculation about Kroenke’s intentions with the Inglewood land could amount to nothing, as he has substantial holdings throughout SoCal and these 60 acres could by ripe for a shopping center, housing, or other non-sports uses. More plausible is the idea that Kroenke could use the land as leverage to extract the maximum amount of concessions from the State of Missouri and the City of St. Louis, the latter party having already lost an arbitration case over planned improvements to Edward Jones Dome.
The Raiders and Chargers will look at Kroenke’s moves with some interest, as LA remains a potential relocation target for them. Both teams’ owners have prioritized staying in Oakland and San Diego, respectively, but interest from LA remains a phone call or meeting away. It might make the most sense for two relocated teams to share one stadium from a financial standpoint. Such a plan is problematic in execution, as exhibited in the sterile environment at MetLife Stadium. If Kroenke were to declare a move and get sign off from the NFL’s owners, he’d have to play at the LA Coliseum or Rose Bowl for at least a few years while the EIR process and construction were completed.
Land acquisition should put more pressure on Missouri/St. Louis to act. The benchmark there is $375 million provided by Jackson County for improvements to Arrowhead Stadium. That’s well short of the $700 million in improvements the Rams are entitled to as part of their arbitration win. Any team that wishes to relocate has a league-imposed deadline of mid-February each year to declare their intentions. Last year, all three relocation candidates chose to stay. With land in hand, the Rams are for now the best positioned to move.