Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times headline may have been a bit overexcited, but it was basically grounded in fact: St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke does indeed have “plans” to build an NFL stadium in Inglewood, though you know what they say about plans.
NFL stadium in Inglewood could mean a billion dollars, 40,000 jobs
If Rams owner Stan Kroenke has his way, an NFL stadium will be built in Inglewood.
What would that mean for this L.A. County city, a mostly low-income area where the majority of residents are African American and Latino?
A billion dollars per year for the local economy plus 40,000 new jobs — many of those in Inglewood — are just two of the benefits, according to the text of a ballot initiative.
So a new stadium in Inglewood would create 40,000 new jobs — “many” in Inglewood! According to the text of a ballot initiative presumably written by the project’s sponsors. (“Presumably” because the Times doesn’t provide a link, and though the initiative was filed on Friday, Inglewood hasn’t posted it on its website.)
That’s massively out of scale with the typical job creation figures for sports stadiums, which is more typically a couple thousand. Presumably again, the initiative (though not the headline) includes jobs that would be created by the rest of the “retail, office, hotel and residential space” planned for the adjacent Hollywood Park racetrack site, which was already in the works before Kroenke’s stadium plan. And does this number include some jobs that would be merely siphoned off from neighboring areas? Presumably.
In any case, this is the kind of claim that we rely on journalists to try to evaluate, by speaking to experts in the field and advocates on various sides of the issue. The Times talks to, let’s see: There’s the mayor of Inglewood, who says this is an indication of how “we’re a good place to be”; there’s a paraphrase from Kroenke and his real estate partner Stockbridge; there’s another quote from the initiative; there’s Curbed LA naming Inglewood its “Neighborhood of the Year”; and that’s the end of the article. Oy.
Not that things are a whole lot better today elsewhere in the sportsbusinesswriterverse: Everyone’s favorite San Antonio Business Journal project coordinator W. Scott Bailey not only spends an entire article speculating on what the Rams’ possible move to L.A. would mean for the Oakland Raiders‘ imaginary move to San Antonio, he manages to spell Kroenke’s name wrong. Four times. The St. Louis Business Journal, at least, has actual news, albeit without much in the way of specifics: The two-man task force assigned by Gov. Jay Nixon to come up with a Rams stadium plan will deliver its report on Friday, though no details are yet available.
If someone wants to bring the not-as-mighty-as-once-but-still-substantial resources of the mainstream media to bear on this story, there are tons of angles to be explored: What is the actual scope of the Inglewood project, and what would it mean for the city? How much would get built even without the stadium? And, most important, can Kroenke really pull off building it as promised with no public money (not even tax breaks or free development rights) without taking a massive bath on the construction costs?
All this is vital not just for readers and political leaders in southern California, but for those in St. Louis, which needs to know just what they’re bidding against in the attempt to keep the Rams. Not that that’s the only criterion, mind you — if L.A. is really such an amazing NFL market that it’s worth Kroenke’s while to build a stadium there on his own dime, then it’d be foolish for Missouri officials to try to outbid it, unless they think keeping the Rams is so important that it’s worth risking a repeat of the worst lease in sports history. But to go into a bidding war without some intelligence about who else is involved is a recipe for bidding against yourself, and nothing good has ever come of that.