The owner of the St. Louis Rams plans to build an 80,000-seat NFL stadium in Inglewood, Calif., which could clear the way for a relocation of the team as soon as the 2016 NFL season, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Stan Kroenke, in conjunction with Stockbridge Capital Group, owners of the Hollywood Park Racetrack, told the L.A. Times that a plan to build the state-of-the-art stadium is in place and that it will be built on a 60-acre plot of land adjacent to The Forum in Inglewood.
The announcement by Kroenke and Stockbridge doesn't necessarily mark the end of the line for the NFL in St. Louis, but this puts plenty of pressure on the city to invest in improvements on the Edward Jones Dome or a new stadium, as soon as possible. Previous efforts to reach a deal with the team deteriorated, although the city is expected to make another proposal at the end of the month, according to the L.A. Times.
Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz, the executives in charge of the St. Louis stadium proposal, released a statement Monday afternoon reaffirming their commitment to keep an NFL team in the city:
We are ready to demonstrate our commitment to keeping the NFL here, and to continue to illustrate why St. Louis has been and will always be a strong NFL market. We will present a plan to Governor Nixon this Friday as scheduled, and we expect that it will meet his criteria, thereby allowing us to share our vision with the public shortly thereafter.
NFL to LA
NFL to LA
The other deadline worth keeping an eye on is the Jan. 28 date that the Rams have until to decide if the team wants to convert its lease into a year-to-year agreement. A clause in the Rams' 30-year lease on the Dome allows them to go to a year-to-year agreement starting in 2015 since the team and city were unable to agree to a renovation plan to make the facility a "first tier" venue.
Previous proposals for stadiums in L.A. have surfaced in the last decade, but have not come to fruition. Most notably, Farmers Field in Downtown L.A. and Ed Roski's site in City of Industry both received legal approval to begin construction, but haven't happened due to the inability to first acquire an NFL team for relocation. The Inglewood site is unique in that it is being built by an investor who already owns an NFL team ready to relocate.
Still, a stadium in L.A. wouldn't have to become the home of the Rams, and even if Kroenke goes through with the construction of the stadium, other teams could be tenants, according to Douglas Morrison of SB Nation's Rams blog, Turf Show Times:
What St. Louis fans may want to add into any fear of losing their team is this doesn't exclude the possibility Kroenke is simply building a stadium with an eye for either the San Diego Chargers or Oakland Raiders to lease. Neither of these two NFL owner groups has the cash to build their own venue in L.A., even with financial help from the NFL. Plus, the building plan is tentatively slated to be completed for 2018.
Inglewood is a Los Angeles County city just southwest of Downtown L.A. The Forum, which is adjacent to the proposed site for Kroenke's new stadium, served as the home of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and NHL's Los Angeles Kings prior to the construction of Staples Center in 1999.