The March NFL owners meetings begin tomorrow in Phoenix, and as Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times writes, Rams owner Stan Kroenke is bringing finished schematic plans for his proposed Inglewood stadium with him. Kroenke’s proposal would put a futuristic, highly-interactive and highly-integrated stadium in Los Angeles, which has not hosted an NFL franchise in 21 years.
Of course, the assumption is that Kroenke, if he were able to build his $1.86 billion palace, would bring the Rams to LA. But there are complications. For one, as Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, there are some in the league who want to “make returning football to Los Angeles a California solution — involving the Chargers and/or Raiders. Not the Rams.” The Chargers and Raiders joined forces last month and announced their plan to share a stadium in Carson.
Meanwhile, there has been progress in the efforts to build a new stadium on the riverfront in St. Louis, but as Thomas notes, the land acquisition and financing necessary for those plans to come to fruition are yet to be done. Kroenke, on the other hand, has already purchased the land in Inglewood, and while he is not quite ready to put a shovel in the ground, Farmer writes that the major pieces of the project are now fully drawn. It would take less than three years to build the stadium, and any team that relocates to Los Angeles could play in the Coliseum or Rose Bowl in the meantime.
One of the more interesting aspects about Kroenke’s proposal is that it is “two-team compliant.” Although Kroenke has enough money to fund the project on his own and does not need to partner with another franchise, the NFL believes Los Angeles is a two-team market and would like any stadium built in the area to be capable of hosting two clubs. Kroenke undoubtedly does not wish to share the wealth generated by a project for which he is assuming the risk by himself, but it is nonetheless an interesting twist in an already fascinating saga.
The league has said that no team would be allowed to relocate before the 2016 season, and it is unlikely that any vote to move a franchise–such a move would require support from three-quarters of the league’s 32 owners–would take place before the fall. But this week, what we have known for months will become even more clear: Los Angeles is primed to get an NFL team for the first time in over two decades, and while San Diego, Oakland, and St. Louis have all made progress in their efforts to keep the Rams out of Hollywood, Kroenke continues to lead the race.