Where’s a really good spot to put an NFL stadium? You can make a sound argument that Inglewood is that spot.
I know, I know. That may be a surprising suggestion. In recent years – OK, in recent decades – Inglewood hasn’t exactly been a prime destination for young hipsters, moneyed Westsiders or even counterculture types, so who’d want to go there on Sunday to see a football game? But Inglewood is making a turnaround, as you can see in the article by David Nusbaum on page 1of this issue. More about that in a minute.
Inglewood popped up as a potential site for a National Football League stadium last winter, when Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams, bought a vacant 60-acre site in Inglewood. (Nusbaum last January connected the dots, figuring out that the unnamed buyer of the property was represented by a law firm that has done a lot of work for Kroenke.)
Oh, sure, Kroenke is involved in real estate development and he could do any number of things with that property aside from putting a stadium there. But there’s a persistent suspicion – maybe a hope – that he wants to relocate his team there. Kroenke can opt out of his lease in St. Louis after the coming football season.
So let’s take a look at how that spot may work as a stadium.
From a convenience standpoint, it’s a very good place. For one, it’s only four miles from the airport, great for travelers. It is has four major freeways within a few miles of it, which is great for locals. And it’s not all that far from the heart of L.A.’s Westside.
Inglewood’s nascent turnaround augurs well for the site as a stadium. As pointed out in this week’s article, the city’s gotten greater command of what had been a runaway budget deficit. That’s assuring to business operators, who have less fear of being taxed into oblivion to pay for the city’s past excesses. Inglewood has generally become more business friendly. If you want to dream, it has the potential of becoming the next Arts District, given the city’s low rents and ample warehouse space.
Now you could argue that 60 acres is mighty tight for an NFL stadium. A stadium itself would fit in that footprint, but there’d be little land around it.
However, that 60-acre parcel is right next to Hollywood Park, which, as luck would have it, is in the early stages of its redevelopment. It would be easy right now to reconfigure the portion of Hollywood Park that would be next to a stadium, if a stadium were to be built, since that land is basically a blank slate. By the way, the developer of Hollywood Park is reticent about any possible discussion it may be having with Kroenke’s people.
Interestingly, on the other side of Kroenke’s 60 acres sits the Forum and its big parking lot. That implies any stadium may be able to rent parking space on Sundays, alleviating some of the concern that there would be scant space for tailgating.
By the way, that brings up a stray question: Since the Forum is owned and managed by a unit of the Madison Square Garden Co., which also owns and manages the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, could MSG manage a football stadium and a team? Like I said, just a question.
Michael Bidwill, the president of the Arizona Cardinals, a few months ago spoke at a conference I attended. I asked him about the prospects of an NFL team being located in Los Angeles. One of the biggest impediments, he said, was the politics of Los Angeles.
Well, sure. But when it comes to politics, Inglewood is no Los Angeles.
OK, so maybe a lot of the foregoing is based largely on hope. But if a football team were to come to Los Angeles County, Inglewood appears to be a great place for it.
Charles Crumpley is editor of the Business Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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