Rams' Kroenke Reportedly Meets With Inglewood Mayor, L.A. Rumors Gain Steam
Inglewood, Calif., Mayor James Butts last week "made some delayed headlines" with comments after his re-election "about a forthcoming meeting" with Rams Owner Stan Kroenke, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSPORTS.com. Inglewood "is an area in which Kroenke owns a 60-acre parcel of land where a stadium could be constructed" if L.A. were to secure an NFL team. Butts in an e-mail "declined to confirm whether that meeting with Kroenke took place, but wrote that he has discussed possible relocation with 'three NFL owners' over 'the past three years.'" Butts "declined to speak to any specifics regarding his dealings" with Kroenke, but said that "roughly half a dozen 'heavily financed development consortiums' have reached out to him as well about potential stadium projects around the Hollywood Park/LA Forum area." La Canfora noted Missouri is "making efforts to keep" the Rams in St. Louis and has "been working on securing a new stadium," with Gov. Jay Nixon announcing a task force last week. But sources "continue to point to the Rams and Raiders as the top candidates" to relocate to L.A., "possibly by next season" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/9). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has previously said that there "would have to be two teams to make it work in L.A." But in Denver, Mike Klis reported with Kroenke's portfolio "already invested in L.A. acreage suitable for stadium construction, there are suspicions the NFL would allow the Rams to move in alone and use the threat of a second franchise to continue the league's leverage on cities hesitant about funding new venues." The L.A. Times "counts 17 teams in which the threat of relocation to L.A. has been mentioned in the past 20 years." Klis: "No wonder the NFL keeps stiff-arming our country's second-largest market," which "sans the NFL has been very good for NFL business" (DENVER POST, 11/9).
ULTIMATE STALKING HORSE: In N.Y., Billy Witz reported NFL Exec VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman "lauded the opportunities" that L.A.'s entertainment, business and celebrity culture present. Grubman said that the league’s return "was a matter of when rather than if," but added that nothing "was imminent." Grubman: "I honestly don’t know if we’ll get a proposal this year. It’s not ripe until it’s ripe." Witz noted L.A. political leaders, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, "have been as lukewarm toward the latest proposals as the NFL has been." Having L.A. as a "stalking horse has been extremely valuable to NFL owners in recent years." Vanderbilt professor John Vrooman said, "It is entirely possible that the L.A. football market has been more valuable to the NFL empty than if it had been occupied since 1995" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/9).