Rams owner announces plans to build NFL stadium at Hollywood Park site

Rendering of the plan for Inglewood site.

Rendering of the plan for Inglewood site.


For 20 years, Los Angeles has sought a game changer to finally bring the NFL back to the City of Angels.

At long last, we may have found one.

In a stunning development, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has teamed up with the owners of the Hollywood Park site to build an 80,000 seat football stadium in Inglewood as the centerpiece of an ambitious development plan that includes a hotel, offices, stores and residential space.

It’s near the same sight Kroenke recently purchased a 60-acre parcel of land that led to speculation he was planning to move the Rams back to the Southland, where they called home from 1946 to 1994.

The story was reported late Sunday night by the Los Angeles Times.

In doing so, Kroenke becomes the first NFL owner to solve the primary question stalling the league’s return to the second biggest market in the country: Where will the team play, and who will build the stadium?

For years the failure by Los Angeles political and business leaders to agree on a site and the financing for a suitable stadium prevented the NFL from taking serious a return here. But with Kroenke now controlling where a stadium will be built and who will pay for it, the greatest hurdle has potentially been cleared.

The Rams are one of three NFL teams – along with the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers – seeking new stadium deals in their current cities but also keeping an eye on the open Los Angeles market.

All three are on one-year or breakable leases, and while the NFL recently announced no one will be relocating to Los Angeles in time for the 2015 season, there remained little doubt L.A. was a definite long-term landing spot for one or two of the Raiders, Rams and Chargers.

Kroenke’s announcement is a stunning blow to St. Louis and Missouri leaders, who have been working feverishly to come up with a viable plan to keep the Rams in St. Louis after arbitrators ruled their current home – the Edward Jones Dome – was in need of a $700 facelift to bring it up to the contractually agreed upon standard to lock the Rams into the remainder of their 30-year lease.

St. Louis has balked at paying for the improvements at the Edward Jones Dome – triggering a clause that allows the Rams to break the lease at the end of the current season.

The question now is, can Kroenke get the suitable political backing to move forward with his plans in Inglewood, and will he have the support of the NFL, which has gone to great lengths to control the ultimate outcome of who will move to Los Angeles?

The league has long viewed Los Angeles as a market big enough to host two teams but has made it clear the decision to relocate here will be controlled within the NFL. There are specific relocation guidelines in place to mandate the process, and no matter what Kroenke has up his sleeve he will have to satisfy those bylaws and guidelines before the NFL green-lights a move here.

One of which is exhausting all avenues with local leaders on a new stadium deal.

This is where it might get tricky for Kroenke, as Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on November 15 appointed a high-powered task force – headed by former Anheuser Busch executive Dave Peacock and St. Louis attorney Bob Blitz – to formulate a suitable stadium deal for the state and the Rams and gave them 60 days to report back to him with their plans.

If Peacock and Blitz come up with a stadium deal, it will be difficult for Kroenke to argue he has run out of local options to stay put and therefore is candidate for relocation.

On the other hand, this could all be a negotiating ploy by Kroenke to force local leaders to satisfy all of his demands. Nevertheless, you can imagine how poorly this will go over with St. Louis Rams fans and how adversely it will affect season ticket sales.

Incidentally, that 60-day deadline is fast approaching. Meanwhile, the Rams on January 28 will decide what to do with their lease. And while it was assumed Kroenke will move to a one-year deal at the Edward Jones Dome and then reassess his options at the end of the 2015 season, all of that is now in question considering the recent developments.