Architect’s rendering of the proposed City of Champions revitalization project with 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood. Courtesy Hollywood Park Land Co.
Architect’s rendering of the proposed City of Champions revitalization project with 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood. Courtesy Hollywood Park Land Co.

The Inglewood City Council voted unanimously to approve an 80,000-seat stadium at the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack as proposed by the owner of the St. Louis Rams, bypassing the need for a referendum.

Instead of approving the stadium Tuesday night, the council could have scheduled another hearing on the issue within 10 days or a June 2 election. The proposal had received enough petition signatures in support of the stadium proposed by Rams owner Stan Kroenke to force the council to take action.

The 5-0 vote was met with jubilation, including from Inglewood Mayor James Butts, who said the proposal considered by the council was “the best financial arrangement in the history of stadium deals in this country” and that Tuesday night’s developments create “the best chance Los Angeles has had of getting professional football back.”

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

Butts said construction will begin by December with or without a commitment from the Rams.

“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.”

The announcement of the stadium proposal jumpstarted excitement about the possibility of an NFL team returning to the Los Angeles area. Last week, the owners of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders increased that excitement by announcing they were working together on a possible $1.7 billion stadium to share in Carson.

A Chargers executive 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. The project will 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 annually.

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.

—City News Service

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