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LA still attractive to Rams and other teams

Proposed Carson, California stadium
L.A. Times| Manica Architecture

The Rams' future in St. Louis continues to be uncertain.

National Football League owners are meeting this week in San Francisco and are expected to receive updates on stadium plans in St. Louis and two Los Angeles suburbs: Carson and Inglewood.

Rams Owner Stan Kroenke has already received the necessary local government approvals for a massive stadium, entertainment and housing development in Inglewood, while the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are combining on a possible venue in Carson.

Los Angeles Times Business Writer Tim Logan is closely watching both plans.

Inglewood stadium rendering
Credit L.A. Times| HKS
Rendering of possible stadium and entertainment development in Inglewood, California

The former Post-Dispatch reporter is also closely tracking the stadium effort in St. Louis.

new stadium, St. Louis Rams
Credit Courtesy HOK | 360 Architecture
Rendering of potential new riverfront stadium in St. Louis.

We caught up with him this week for a West Coast perspective on the potential of the NFL's return to the Los Angeles area.

On the demographics of Inglewood

Logan says the middle class and working class city has large African-American and Latino communities. It has fallen on hard times over the past two decades, but there are signs of a rebound. He says it was recently named one of the hottest neighborhoods in Los Angeles and will have a light rail line in the next couple of years. The project by the Rams' owner could capitalize on that momentum.

On the status of the project

Logan says it has received all the necessary approvals. City officials signed off a few years ago on what was mainly a residential development, but that has been changed to include the stadium, office buildings, a performing arts center and more retail space. He says it sailed through the approval process because the concept was sold to residents as sports and entertainment complex, which would be a regional draw, beside new homes in an area that has a housing shortage.

On the financing

He says mostly everything but the stadium will be privately financed. The stadium will be paid for upfront by Stan Kroenke and his investment partners. They will recoup some infrastructure costs and game day policing expenses after Inglewood starts to receive $25 million a year in tax revenue from the project. At that point, anything beyond that total can help developers recover the cost of roads and sewers. "So it's a pretty good deal for Inglewood," Logan told St. Louis Public Radio.

On whether NFL's potential return is generating "buzz"

Logan says there is a sense of excitement, but the sports landscape is already crowded with baseball's Dodgers, basketball’s Lakers and college football teams at USC and UCLA. He says some believe the LA-area has been fine without the NFL for two decades. There are others who are very skeptical, because LA has been leveraged by owners in the past to get a better deal in another city. "There's still a good chunk of people who just kind of believe this will never happen anyway."

On the next steps in the story

He says he is closely watching activity in St. Louis (and San Diego). Logan says the Rams will likely stay if the NFL believes there is a viable stadium plan in St. Louis. "The Rams have done their thing in Inglewood. The Chargers have done their thing in Carson. Now the ball is kind of in the court of San Diego and St. Louis to respond."

Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

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