The Inglewood City Council could approve plans tomorrow for an 80,000-seat stadium proposed by the owner of the St. Louis Rams as part of the redevelopment of the former Hollywood Park racetrack, or call a special election to give voters the final say.

The city clerk and the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office have verified petition signatures in support of the stadium proposed by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. That verification sends the initiative to the City Council, which can either adopt it outright, schedule another hearing within 10 days to adopt it or schedule a June 2 election on the issue.

Although Kroenke is behind the stadium effort, the Rams have not announced any plans to move to Southern California. City documents, however, note that approving the stadium “would provide the city with a unique ability to attract a National Football League franchise to Southern California.”

“It’s a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue,” Chris Meany, senior vice president of Hollywood Park Land Co., said last month of the stadium proposal. “It is designed so you can play football there, you can play soccer there and you can hold also large-scale events there.”

“Our partner (Kroenke) owns a team among many, many, many, many, many other things he does,” Meany said. “The Kroenke group is one of the nation’s most successful developers of sports and entertainment venues. They have stadiums, arenas, music halls across the country and they have those venues in which they have their own teams operating and they have venues in which they lease them to other teams. This is just a real estate development business for them, separate and aside from what other businesses they might have, which do include sports franchises.”

The announcement of the stadium proposal, however, jumpstarted excitement about a possible NFL team returning to the Los Angeles area. That excitement hit new heights last week when the owners of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders announced that they were working together on a possible $1.7 billion stadium to share in Carson.

An executive with the Chargers said last week the two teams expedited their plans after Kroenke announced his stadium proposal in Inglewood.

Development is already underway on a 238-acre retail, office, hotel and residential project at the Hollywood Park site, and that effort will continue regardless of whether the city or voters approve the addition of 60 more acres to the project to include the stadium. The additional land would also include a 6,000-seat “performance venue,” Meany said. The 4 million-square-foot Hollywood Park project was approved by the city in 2009.

The Rams have been pushing for a new facility to replace the Edward Jones Dome, where the team plays. Kroenke’s Inglewood plans will likely ratchet up pressure on St. Louis to either strike a deal for a new stadium or watch the team return to Southern California, where it played from 1946 to 1994.

According to the initiative presented to Inglewood, the stadium project “would be funded entirely with private funds provided by the property owner developing the project. Inglewood residents and the city would pay no taxes or subsidies for stadium construction.” The developers estimate the project would generate at least $25 million in new revenue for the city.

Once the city begins collecting revenues from the site, however, “the initiative allows for a contingent reimbursement of public costs advanced by the landowner for public services and infrastructure” — such as widened sidewalks, water and sewer systems, public parks, street lights, traffic lights and other road improvements, according to the city. The reimbursements will be paid only after the city earns at least $25 million in tax revenue from the project each year.

In other words, if the city collects $30 million in tax revenue from the stadium in a year, the city would keep $25 million, and the remaining $5 million would be used to reimburse the developer for public infrastructure costs, according to the city. The reimbursements would continue until all of the developer’s up-front costs for public infrastructure have been covered, after which the city would keep all revenue from the project, according to city documents.

The city noted that the $25 million in revenue estimated for the city each year is roughly 30 percent of the city’s existing general fund budget.

City News Service

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