SBD/January 31, 2014/Facilities

Goodell Says No Plans In Place To Build Stadium On L.A. Land Bought By Kroenke

Kroenke's purchase is the first by an owner in L.A. capable of accommodating a stadium
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during his State of the League address Friday said there are "no plans to my knowledge of a stadium development" in L.A. following the news that Rams Owner Stan Kroenke has bought 60 acres between The Forum and Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif. Goodell said, "Anything that would require any kind of stadium development requires multiple votes of the membership." He noted Kroenke is a "very large developer on a global basis," and he owns land "throughout the country and throughout the world." Goodell: "He has kept us informed of it, we're aware of it." He added instead of "overreacting" and assuming Kroenke is looking to move the Rams back to L.A., "we should make sure we do what's necessary to continue to support the team locally -- which the fans have done in St. Louis -- and make sure we do whatever we can do to make sure that team is successful in the St. Louis market" (NFL Network, 1/31). In L.A., Sam Farmer reports Wal-Mart originally owned the land, but "sold it after failing to get public approval for a superstore." MSG, which owns The Forum, had "planned to buy the lot" for an estimated $90M in order to "acquire more space for parking and possibly additional development." However, MSG was "informed by Wal-Mart at the end of 2013 that the land had already been sold to an unnamed party." The Rams "neither confirmed nor denied that Kroenke had purchased the land and declined to comment." Although relocating a franchise would be "fraught with challenges, and the L.A. market repeatedly has been used as leverage to get stadium deals done in other cities, this is the first time an NFL owner has bought a piece of land in the L.A. area capable of accommodating a stadium." The Rams have been "unable to work out a stadium deal in St. Louis, and, according to the terms of their lease, are able to move" after the '14 NFL season (L.A. TIMES, 1/31).

WHAT'S THE ANGLE? In St. Louis, Hunn, Logan & Burwell note in a front-page piece that whether Kroenke "plans to move the Rams there, use the site as leverage in his negotiations over improvements to the Edward Jones Dome, turn it into a retail development or simply flip it to a new owner is unclear." But with the pro football world gathered for the Super Bowl, the news "adds at least a little pressure to state and local officials in St. Louis who are working to keep Kroenke’s Rams here." A clause in the team’s contract with the Edward Jones Dome "requires it be a 'first-tier' stadium -- in the top eight of 32 NFL stadiums -- by 2015." If it is not, the franchise "would be free to leave St. Louis, or go on a year-to-year lease." While Kroenke’s intentions for the land "are unclear, the 60-acre site would appear to be large enough for a stadium." Extra parking could be "available across the street at the 17,500-seat Forum, and in new development just south." The 49ers’ new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara "sits on 40 acres," and the Lucas Oil Stadium site in Indianapolis is "about the same size" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/31).

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: In L.A., David Nusbaum noted Kroenke could "try to build a retail center or seek some use other than a stadium," but if he "wants to build a stadium for a football team, he’d need to make decisions soon." Once redevelopment begins on the site that belonged to Hollywood Park, "perhaps as soon as March, any opportunity to build an NFL stadium at the Wal-Mart site could start to diminish." Hollywood Park developers have "planned a ceremonial groundbreaking for the project this week." Nusbaum: "What's more, teams must apply to the league for relocation between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15." If that window "closes and a team has to wait until next year to apply, the prospect of hundreds of new homes adjacent to the Wal-Mart site will make it harder to gain approvals for the stadium project" (LABUSINESSJOURNAL.com, 1/30).

RAISING THE STAKES: In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell writes under the header, "Rams Owner Ups The Ante." L.A. is "officially back in play as a potential future home for your NFL football team." Burwell: "I just want to know if St. Louis still is." Kroenke is "changing the game, and changing it dramatically." Sources yesterday "made it clear that the purchase of this land doesn’t automatically mean Kroenke will be rolling the moving vans" when the Rams' lease in St. Louis expires. Kroenke "likes to buy land, and build stuff on it, or re-sell it to other exceedingly rich guys." But this move "wafts with the scent of the sort of muscle-flexing economic power that most of us can’t begin to fathom" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/31).
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