The news that the owner of St. Louis Rams bought a 60-acre parcel in Inglewood last month may turn out to be just a negotiating ploy. But if things ever become serious in Inglewood, that will be bad news for AEG's still-lingering plans to bring football to downtown L.A., and for the city's plans to revitalize the L.A. Convention Center.
But don't count on Mayor Eric Garcetti to get too worked up about the news out of Inglewood. In fact, in recent remarks he seemed strikingly indifferent about the AEG plan, even saying he would welcome the NFL's return to Inglewood.
"If they come any place, it's gonna be good for Los Angeles," he said in an interview on Friday. "I would certainly welcome any place in the Southland for football."
Like many others, Garcetti suggested that Rams owner Stan Kroenke may only be using the Inglewood parcel to extract concessions from the city of St. Louis. Last year, St. Louis refused to pay for a $700 million renovation of the Rams' stadium, but talks are continuing. Over the years, many NFL owners have threatened to move to L.A. in order to get a better deal from their hometowns.
"A lot of people use leverage for a lot of different things," Garcetti said.
But in his remarks, the mayor also seemed somewhat aloof about the fate of AEG's plan to build Farmers Field. Garcetti got a briefing in October from AEG owner Phil Anschutz, and also spoke on the phone with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. But since then, AEG's plans have gotten little attention from City Hall.
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"The deal is what the deal is," Garcetti said. "We don't have to spend a lot of time keeping it alive. It just is. AEG can make that deal with a private team or not, and if they don't there's other options in the area."
AEG has sold Farmers Field as an economic boon for L.A., arguing it will generate 20,000 to 30,000 jobs and $1.9 billion in economic impact.
Whatever the actual impact, Garcetti believes it would be comparable if a team were to go to Inglewood.
"The visitors that come - it's probably pretty much a wash for the hotels and things like that," Garcetti said. "We'd prefer it here. But it's gonna be a net gain in Inglewood too."