Hold onto your hats, because we have an actual Los Angeles NFL stadium plan, people! According to today’s Los Angeles Times:
Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who bought 60 acres adjacent to the Forum a year ago, has joined forces with the owners of the 238-acre Hollywood Park site, Stockbridge Capital Group. They plan to add an 80,000-seat NFL stadium and 6,000-seat performance venue to the already-massive development of retail, office, hotel and residential space, Stockbridge and the Kroenke Group told The Times.
This is indeed actual news, though if you’re hoping for specifics — how much it would cost, how it would be paid for — you’re going to be disappointed, because Kroenke isn’t telling you that. Stockbridge did say that “no tax dollars would be used for the construction project, including the stadium,” but we’ve heard that before for a lot of projects that end up involving tax dollars for things that aren’t strictly stadium construction; yes, this is California where that kind of thing is usually a non-starter (or at least much harder to get approved), but I’ll be withholding judgment on that until the financial story is actually released in full.
What we do have, then, is an announcement by Stockbridge that they’ll let Kroenke use part of their land, which is important because the land Kroenke owns in Inglewood isn’t enough for a stadium, parking, etc. So, does this actually mean that this stadium will actually be built?
That’s the big question, and right now I don’t think we can do better than “future cloudy, ask again later.” Kroenke, of course, is in the midst of negotiating a new Rams stadium in St. Louis, and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has said he’s determined to get one built, with his two-man stadium task force set to deliver a plan by the end of the month. And significantly, Nixon hasn’t ruled out using taxpayer dollars — just “no new tax burden,” which could mean redirecting existing taxes. In fact, St. Louis magazine reports that in order to get around the city’s voter-approved law banning public spending on a new stadium without a referendum, the state would have the city take over debt payments on the old stadium, which would free up state money to be used for a new one.
That would still only amount to about $200 million in public money, which might not be enough to entice Kroenke to keep the Rams in St. Louis. Or it might just not be as much as Kroenke things he can get by leveraging his threat to leave. In which case, making a vague pronouncement about his L.A. site — we found some more land, we’re gonna pay for it all somehow! — makes total sense as a way to turn up the heat on Nixon to up his ante, because Los Angeles would take us back in a second, don’t you know it, so you better step up your game, mister!
Or maybe Kroenke really does know how to finance an L.A. stadium out of his own pocket, while also paying any territorial fees that the NFL requires for a team moving to L.A. (which ain’t gonna be no $2 billion, but could well be something), and turn a bigger profit than getting $200 million or more in subsidies for a new building in St. Louis. It’s all gamesmanship here, and the whole point of it is for no one to know whether he’s bluffing or not, so we shouldn’t feel bad having to say that we don’t know whether this is a serious threat. Not that I wouldn’t be thrilled for North Korea to hack into Kroenke’s emails so we can find out what he really thinks, but I’m not holding my breath. (And also that would be illegal, so if you’re a North Korean hacker reading this for some reason, I’m not actually asking you do this, okay? Sheesh, imaginary North Korean hackers have no sense of hyperbole.)