Los Angeles has long been used as a handy piece of leverage in the NFL—it's the place teams threaten to go when what they really want is a new stadium wherever they are. But now it's starting to seem like the NFL might actually be serious about sending a team (maybe two?) to LA. At a convocation of owners in Arizona this week, "the NFL's potential return to Los Angeles ranks high on the list [of meeting topics], perhaps even at the top," ESPN reports. The difference is that now team owners, not developers and events like AEG (backer of the failed Downtown stadium plan), who are gunning to bring the NFL to Los Angeles. Most notably: St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who has yet to commit his team, but has committed to building a fancy stadium in Inglewood.
As the New York Jets owner tells the LA Times, "Owners of teams are the only ones who can make the decisions. The developers can do all they want, but until the owner of a team wants to go out there, it's not going to happen. When they decide they want to go out there. Things happen." (The NFL and the league's other owners have to agree, however; no one can make the decision unilaterally.)
LA now has two possible stadium plans that are backed by owners. In Carson, the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders have joined forces on a new venue, and Kroenke's Inglewood stadium plan, meanwhile, embodies the "holy trinity" of football stadium plans: "the land, the money and the team," as ESPN puts it.
Kroenke's already purchased the 60-acre site in Inglewood and has teamed up with Stockbridge Capital to integrate a stadium into the enormous mixed-use complex going up on the adjoining former Hollywood Park site. The stadium are moving along at rapid speed and could have building permits by December, with construction lasting about three years. The Carson plan is a little behind and still working on approvals, but they've gotten plenty of signatures to qualify for a public vote, which will help skirt a lengthy environmental review.
LA's been burned by the NFL before—with many failed plans over many decades—but now the owner of the New England Patriots is saying stuff like this: "I think L.A. should be a market where we play Super Bowls, where we have an NFL experience, we have a network out here. There's a lot of things that can be done around it and allow the NFL to really be a showplace ..."
Then again, the owner of the Colts says Kroenke is playing it close to the chest and won't say outright that he wants to move to LA: "He's creating options in the Los Angeles market and he has not foreclosed the St. Louis market and so to the extent that he hasn't turned all his cards over that may be because Stan hasn't made all the decisions. And he doesn't have to yet."
Whatever becomes of LA's stadium dreams, everyone wants a decision to come down soon. NFL executive Eric Grubman tells ESPN, "I would like to think that we have got a good shot at making the decision in time for people to know in the 2016 season where they are playing."
· Stan Kroenke's moves make Los Angeles a real possibility [ESPN]
· Inglewood NFL Stadium Reveals Plans For Enormous, See-Through, Billboard Roof [Curbed LA]
· The Raiders and Chargers Just Proposed a Joint NFL Stadium in the Los Angeles Suburbs [Curbed LA]