In a 5-0 vote, the Inglewood City Council paved the way Tuesday for a new stadium that could lure the St. Louis Rams back to the Los Angeles area.
But the leader of a task force that’s angling to build a riverfront stadium for the Rams in St. Louis said he isn’t concerned about the news.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Inglewood City Council unanimously approved a bid to build an 80,000-seat stadium. The largely privately financed venture is being developed in part by Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke, which has led to heavy speculation that the team’s days in St. Louis are numbered.
The Times said the stadium could cost as much as $1.86 billion, and could be used to host NCAA Final Four tournaments or other major sporting events. Construction is expected to begin in December.
From the article:
A ballot initiative to add the stadium to existing plans to develop the site was certified earlier this month after organizers collected 22,183 signatures, twice the number needed. Inglewood had the choice of putting the project on the ballot in June or letting the City Council approve the plan, which includes a mixed-use development sprawling over 298 acres.
“We're going as fast as we can,” said Chris Meany, senior vice president for the Hollywood Park Land Co., which controls the property. “We've got a whole bunch of architects and engineers working on this.”
In response to the Inglewood Council’s move, Dave Peacock – one of the co-chairs of a task force trying to build a new stadium in St. Louis – said in a statement to St. Louis Public Radio that “as always, our focus is 100 percent committed to keeping the Rams here in their home of St. Louis and ensuring that we remain an NFL city for generations to come.”
“We continue to make excellent progress on our NFL riverfront stadium project in St. Louis and continue to meet regularly with the NFL and the Rams,” said Peacock, the former president of Anheuser Busch. “Be assured, we will have more progress to share in the weeks ahead.”
Peacock and attorney Bob Blitz are working on an effort to build an open-air stadium on St. Louis' riverfront. It's expected to cost close to a billion dollars, and some of the money to pay for it could come from extending St. Louis, St. Louis County and state bonds paying off the Edward Jones Dome.
In some ways, Peacock’s statement alludes to a number of variables that could prevent Kroenke from moving the Rams to the Los Angeles area. For one thing, NFL guidelines tend to frown upon relocation efforts to enrich owners of teams – especially if home cities are putting forward viable stadium alternatives.
And Kroenke’s ability to move the team will need approval from three-fourths of other NFL owners. That could be compromised if the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders move forward with plans to build a joint stadium in Carson, California, especially since other owners may not want three teams in the Los Angeles market.
Missouri state Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, is leading an effort to require a legislative or statewide vote before state bonds can be issued for the St. Louis stadium. He said late last week that the Raiders' and Chargers’ threat to build their Carson stadium requires Missourians “to be even more careful about whether or not we throw a couple hundred million dollars of incentives if he has nowhere to go anyway.”
“His leverage is the stadium that he’s offered to build in Inglewood,” Silvey said. “He’s demonstrated that he has the money to do this if he wants to do it. And he apparently wants to do it there and doesn’t want to do it in St. Louis. But if the Chargers and the Raiders now have an agreement, if the NFL owners decide that’s a better fit for the NFL – well then it appears to me that Mr. Kroneke has lost a lot of leverage. And I think we need to be even more careful about whether or not we throw a couple hundred million dollars of incentives if he has nowhere to go anyway.”
Both the Chargers and the Raiders are trying to haggle out a deal with their home cities to get new stadiums. It’s possible the threat of a joint stadium amounts to leverage to try and move those discussions forward.