A development group that includes a company controlled by the owner of the St. Louis Rams announced plans Monday to build an 80,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles suburbs that could become home for an NFL team.
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The proposal that envisions a stadium rising on the site of a former horse track again raised the hopes of fans that Los Angeles could end its two-decade drought without an NFL team. It becomes the latest in a string of stadium proposals in the Los Angeles area since the 1994 exit of the Rams and Raiders from Southern California.
The proposal stands out, however, because of the involvement of St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke. His company, The Kroenke Group, has entered a joint venture with Stockbridge Capital Group, which had been developing a 238-acre tract of homes, parks and office space at the former Hollywood Park track in Inglewood, on the edge of Los Angeles.
Kroenke's company owns an adjacent 60 acres, which would be merged into the overall development. The expanded project would include a stadium, a separate 6,000-seat performance venue and parking.
"This is a perfect location for a venue like this," said Christopher Meany, a senior executive for the joint venture, Hollywood Park Land Co., alluding to its proximity to major freeways, the Los Angeles International Airport and The Forum, the former home of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers. "I don't know of a place that compares to this."
A rendering of the project depicts a stadium, shielded by a gently sloping dome, surrounded by palm trees and fountains.
Meany was cautious not to characterize the stadium as an NFL venue, emphasizing that any decision on moving a team is "entirely in the hands of the NFL." He repeatedly referred to the stadium as "multipurpose," also capable of hosting soccer games.
The shell of the old racetrack would need to be leveled, and stadium construction is not expected to begin before late this year, with a completion date pegged for 2018.
However, its development would hinge on approval by local voters, Meany said.
The proposal was first reported Monday by the Los Angeles Times.
The plan adds pressure on the city of St. Louis to either strike a deal for a new stadium for the Rams, or watch the team return to Southern California, where it played from 1946 to 1994. The team is unhappy in the Edward Jones Dome, which is outdated by NFL standards.
St. Louis is expected to offer the team a new proposal by the end of the month.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement that "St. Louis is an NFL city and I am committed to keeping it that way."
Two of Nixon's advisers on the NFL, former Anheuser-Busch executive David Peacock and lawyer Robert Blitz, said in a statement that "this will be a long-term process, but one that the state of Missouri and the St. Louis region are fully pledged to seeing through."
The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are also playing in aging stadiums and are considered potential Los Angeles transplants.
The earliest any team could move would be 2016.
Meany made the Inglewood announcement standing outside the shuttered track, where work has been underway razing barns and preparing the site for development.
The city of Los Angeles has been hoping to lure an NFL team to a proposed downtown field. The city's aspirations are hitched to Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and the downtown Staples Center, home of the Lakers and Clippers. Under its deal with City Hall, the company, led by billionaire Philip Anschutz, has until April to sign a football team.
Another stadium project has been discussed for years in the city of Industry, about 20 miles east of downtown.
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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com