Update 10:50 AM: The NFL released a statement that doesn’t actually address Kroenke or Hollywood Park, at least not until 2016. From league spokesman Brian McCarthy:
“No team has applied for relocation and there will be no team relocations for the 2015 season. We are committed to working towards having franchises that are strong and successful in their existing markets. Any decision on relocation in 2016 or later is subject to approval by the 32 clubs. An affirmative vote by 24 of 32 clubs (three-fourths) is required.”
Overhead of plan:
The LA Times’ Sam Farmer and Roger Vincent have a bombshell to start your week: Rams owner Stan Kroenke is partnering with the capital and master developer behind Hollywood Park to add an 80,000-seat football stadium to the current plans.
SF-based Wilson Meany is the development partner (think of JRDV for Coliseum City), with plans already in the works. Adding Kroenke’s recently acquired 60 acres to the adjacent 238 acres brings to total development to nearly 300 acres, a massive complex of easily redevelopable land, 50% more than the refocused vision in Oakland. Wilson Meany already has experience redeveloping a race track, having redone Bay Meadows in phases going back a decade. Bay Meadows is a much smaller site than Hollywood Park at 83.5 acres.
Stockbridge Capital, also based in SF, is a large real estate investment that often sinks its teeth into large projects. Stockbridge bankrolled Bay Meadows, hotels in Las Vegas, and more staid assets like office parks throughout the country. It’s a bit ironic that two SF companies are partnering on Hollywood Park, whereas a consortium of mostly SoCal interests are behind Coliseum City.
Anyone who reads this site is well aware of the Rams’ current situation in St. Louis. The football team beat the operator of the Edward Jones Dome (a public authority), which entitles the Rams to $700 million in improvements – or a completely new stadium if renovation doesn’t make sense. This was thanks to perhaps the most team-friendly lease in pro sports. A package of renovations was not approved by the City, putting the Rams into a year-to-year lease with no penalty for leaving. As the rumor mill of teams escaping to LA heated up, St. Louis civic and business interests including a former Anheuser-Busch exec put together preliminary plans for a stadium near the Gateway Arch along the Mississippi River. Financing is unclear, with another decade of debt still remaining on the existing Dome in addition to new stadium debt (sound familiar?). Chances are that the State of Missouri will have to be involved in the same manner they’re involved currently, to the tune of a $12 million annual subsidy. St. Louis, meet Oakland. Create a support group.
Teams still won’t apply to move for 2015, as Roger Goodell is pulling the strings here. Instead, this move and maybe another by AEG down the road will ratchet up pressure on St. Louis, Oakland, and San Diego to deliver stadium deals in short order. Inglewood intends to put full Hollywood Park plan before voters this November. Having rejected the Chargers’ desire for a downtown stadium near the convention center and Petco Park, San Diego has a tall order to come up with a satisfactory plan for all parties before the calendar turns to 2016. It’ll be interesting to see how Rams ticket sales are affected by this announcement, since it’s Kroenke, not some third party, doing it.
The Raiders’ lease at the Coliseum has already expired, and the team has given indications that it wants a new short-term deal. Mark Davis prefers a repeat of the previous lease, a 1-year deal that forgoes previously-desired stadium revenue streams in favor of maximum flexibility. Knowing that and the ticking clock, will Oakland put up much of a fight as it did in last summer’s drawn out negotiations with the A’s? It seems unlikely. Oakland has precious little leverage at the moment, especially as it tries to work on plans with both the Raiders and A’s, football team in the driver’s seat.
With the Inglewood announcement, the NFL’s grand plan comes into clearer view. The league has been very hands-off with the teams and cities over the last 1-2 years, allowing their respective political processes to play out. Rules required teams to make good-faith efforts towards new stadia in incumbent markets, all done in various ways for all three teams. St. Louis dared the Rams to go to arbitration and lost badly. San Diego let its convention center’s interest override the Chargers and lost the script on a football stadium. The Raiders stayed involved to a minimal degree with Coliseum City as that project flailed repeatedly. Now the NFL, through its relocation team, can start to hammer cities with demands. If those demands aren’t met, well, hopefully those respective mayors have made the proper political calculations as to what football stadium subsidies mean to their tenures.
2016 has started off with a bang. Meanwhile, Lew Wolff sits back and waits.
P.S. – BTW, if you haven’t kept up on Bay Meadows, it’s not nearly finished. Development was kept on a slow track thanks to the recession and a desire for controlled growth. Phase II is underway.