NFL Football Returns to L.A!
UPDATE at 11:42 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016: See reaction from Carson's mayor and more at the bottom.
NFL owners today backed a plan to bring the St. Louis Rams to a soon-to-be-built stadium in the City of Champions, Inglewood. The league already updated its website to reflect the name of the team — the Los Angeles Rams.
The San Diego Chargers reportedly will have an option to move north and share the venue with the Rams.
The move will mean the first NFL home-team kickoff in the Los Angeles market since 1994, when the Rams played a last game at Anaheim Stadium before leaving for St. Louis. The stadium is set to be ready by 2019.
Inglewood's proposed 70,000-seat stadium would be developed at the closed Hollywood Park horse-racing track at a reported cost of $1.8 billion. Rams owner Stan Kroenke plans to build it with the help of Stockbridge Capital Group.
He purchased a 60-acre parcel next to the 238-acre track with plans to partner with Hollywood Park's owners and build the stadium, a 6,000-seat performance venue and a mixed-use retail-office-hotel project. The site was already being prepared for construction.
The entire project, part of Inglewood's City of Champions Revitalization Initiative, was being called the Los Angeles Entertainment Center.
It beat out the city of Carson's plans to facilitate an NFL stadium and invite two teams there. Early last year the Oakland Raiders and the Chargers announced they would back a nearly $2 billion facility in Carson and play in it.
The Chargers reportedly were reluctant to break from their proposed Carson partnership with the Raiders, but the latter team pulled out of its request to relocate tonight.
NFL owners did not seem to favor having the Raiders move back to Los Angeles. And they appeared to favor the Inglewood plan even before today's vote.
All the three teams vying to move to L.A. — the Chargers, Rams and Raiders — used the threat in an attempt to get their hometowns to build costly new stadiums with the help of taxpayer funds.
In fact, Los Angeles held unique value as a massive media market without an NFL team: It's been used time and again as a threat by owners who wanted new venues.
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But the television and advertising money here was at last too great to resist. Heartbroken fans in St. Louis are no match for the power of the dollar.
The question is, after all these years sans football, will L.A. embrace a team that once left it?
ADDED at 5:53 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016: The Rams will play the 2016 season here, with the expectation that the team will use the Coliseum temporarily.
UPDATE at 11:42 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016: It sounds as if Carson Mayor Albert Robles was throwing in the towel. He said in a statement that "Carson will now restart our original plan for building out our 157-acre property in partnership with one of the nation’s largest commercial developers."
However, the city would be on standby if this whole Inglewood thing didn't work out. He noted that the Federal Aviation Administration isn't happy with building a stadium under the LAX flight path.
"If the League must revisit this issue, Carson stands ready," Robles said.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti welcomed the Rams with this statement:
Today, with the NFL returning home, Los Angeles cements itself as the epicenter of the sports world. We cannot wait to welcome the Rams, and perhaps others soon, as they join a storied lineup of professional franchises, collegiate powerhouses and sports media companies. With the return of the NFL, there is yet another another reason for visitors to come to Los Angeles, and for Angelenos to love calling this city home. I look forward to seeing the players out on the field.
LA Observed has an analysis about why Inglewood and the Rams were the right choice:
... The Inglewood stadium was a far superior stadium to what the Chargers and Raiders offered in Carson. Three times the size of the Vatican, the Hollywood Park facility will also serve as a major entertainment and retail complex. It could house the NFL Network studios and even be the site of a west wing of the NFL Hall of Fame. It offers a major boost to a blighted area, and brings a fantastic new tourist attraction to the region and its local economy. It's only a matter of time before the Final Four and the Super Bowl are played in Inglewood.
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