Inglewood’s two-step tango with Rams acclimated

It’s time to party. Well, it’s time to play some football. Then it’s time to party. The Rams have already put on their dancing shoes. Now they’re just waiting to see if they’ll get a partner to join them on the dance floor. It doesn’t matter if the speakers blare out Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” or drop DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win.”   

Football rules, baby. In the City of Angels, that mantra hasn’t been said about an NFL team in quite some time. How about since the conclusion of the 1994 NFL season when the Rams bolted from Anaheim to head to the Midwest and parked in St. Louis, Missouri for two decades.

Those 21 years were not too kind to the Rams. Since bailing out of the Sunshine State, the Rams have made the playoffs just five times, including the year they beat Tennessee Titans in the Super Bowl. That may be a moot point, at least for now.

Coming out on the victory stick after an intensely-long bidding war with Carson for the right to host Los Angeles’ first NFL franchise in 21 years, the city of Inglewood stand to enjoy an enormous financial kickback for years to come.

Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts said the city could reap billions of dollars from the new stadium being built and the development of other entities such as a movie theater and mixed use projects. It’s already projected that as many as 40,000 jobs could open up as a result of the 70,000-seat stadium being built.

For a city that once housed and lost the monetary residuals resulting from the Los Angeles Lakers playing at the Fabulous Forum, and saw Triple Crown winners grace the legendary thoroughbred race course at Hollywood Park, having an NFL team in play now will take Inglewood to a new scope-nationally and internationally.

Butts said his initial reaction to NFL owners voting 30-2 in favor of bringing the Rams to Inglewood left him in a blank state of mind.

“I was pretty numb,” Butts said in a phone interview. “It took me two days to process that we won.”

rams3Starting this summer, Sunday afternoons in Los Angeles will look a little bit different. For one, the announcement by the NFL that the St. Louis Rams will now become the Los Angeles Rams, simply means that the city should get ready for the 24/7 traffic snarl surge that is about to take on full form.

It’s going to be a parking lot sitting on La Brea Ave. once a new stadium finally gets erected at the Hollywood Park site and the Rams kick off their return debut in their own home in a couple of years.

But that’s okay. Officials of Inglewood would rather have the city full of bustling customers and tourists occupying the town than have empty restaurants and people loitering outside of liquor stores any day of the week. What this means does not require rocket science. It means that the Los Angeles market, especially Inglewood, will enjoy a robust monetary reboot.

That’s more than just good news for Rams owner Stan Kroenke. By relocating to Southern California, Kroenke’s franchise has struck gold in more ways than one. Kroenke, who must pay a $550 million franchise relocation fee, said it’s been a long time coming.

“I told everyone in the room today that this has been multi-years in the making. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Los Angeles Committee for a number of years and it is a difficult market. It is a difficult place to permit a stadium and build something that we as a league can all be proud of. We worked hard, got a little bit lucky and had a lot of people help us,” Kroenke said after the owners voted. “First of all, my partners in the league and the league office were just outstanding. They really served to inspire me and keep me going. It is a difficult process and as Roger (Goodell) said, it is bittersweet. We understand the emotions that are involved of our fans and it’s not easy to do these things. They are purposefully made hard, but we’re here today and made a decision and worked long and hard at the various alternatives.

“When they didn’t succeed, we worked until this point. We’re excited and want to thank all of my partners in the NFL. I also want to thank Mayor Butts, who is in Inglewood. This is a big economic benefit to a as some long-time Los Angelinos have told me, ‘I don’t know if you can do this, but if you can get it done, it will benefit a lot of people with lower incomes.’ Also, I’ve had a home in the area for 20 years and it will be a lot of fun for me as I spend a lot of time there anyway to move forward, look forward and build a great stadium for our league and for Los Angeles.”

Los Angeles, better yet Inglewood, be prepared to start rooting for the local home team again. With football once again roaming Southern California the city of Inglewood, Los Angeles, the No. 2 market in the country, have re-staked its claim as a national sports power broker around the globe. Having a spanking new professional football stadium built somewhere close to the outskirts of Hollywood brings all kinds of possibilities for Inglewood, Los Angeles and the region.

No doubt that would include future Super Bowl games, the Olympics coming back to town and other mega events. In short, this is a win-win situation for Los Angeles.

Until the stadium is finally erected in 2019, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum more than likely will play host to the Rams. The attraction of the Rams and USC playing back-to-back games on Saturdays and on Sundays is going to bring in a lot of business. So the local homeowners charging cash deposits for parking on their property is going to be making probably as much as three times the $20 to $40 they’re making now from people attending USC home football games.

The locals are not only people elated that the Rams are back in town. It makes sense. It is also good business. The caveat of having an NFL team in Los Angeles, like it means to other cities, is more cash flow in the barrel. It means tens of thousands of people more will be employed.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a press conference after the owners meeting, sounded like a man satisfied that something was able to get done around the whole relocation process.

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“It’s been a long process and a long day so I apologize and appreciate everyone’s patience in allowing our process to play out,” Goodell said. “The NFL owners tonight approved the return of the Los Angeles Rams to the market starting with the 2016 season.

“In 2019, they will be opening in a new stadium, which we are all as ownership very excited about the kind of facility that is going to be built we believe will be extraordinary successful in the Los Angeles market. It’s more than just a stadium. It’s a project and an entertainment complex that we believe will be responsive to the kind of things we need to be successful with our fans in the Los Angeles market.

“This agreement also allows the Chargers to relocate to Los Angeles as well. If they do not exercise that option, the Raiders would have the option also to move to Los Angeles – or to move to Los Angeles with the Rams. The agreement provides that we would give $100 million to both the Chargers and to the Raiders to use to help build a facility. If a new stadium could get built, we would contribute that $100 million to the project in both of those markets, which would be our hope.

“The ownership I think personally believes that the project at Hollywood Park was the kind of signature project that is going to help make us successful in Los Angeles for the long-term. I said this morning that we’ve been at this for over 20 years. We felt that we needed to have the kind of stadium and kind of project that had the vision and had the facilities that would really bring a new kind of fan experience to the NFL and to Los Angeles. We’re very excited about the project that Stan (Kroenke) has put together.

“This morning I started the meeting by saying that relocation is a painful process. It’s painful for the fans, communities, the teams and the league in general. Stability is something that we’ve taken a great deal of pride in and in some ways, it is a bittersweet moment because we were unsuccessful in being able to get the kind of facilities that we wanted to get done in their home markets. The excitement that we feel about being able to return the Rams to Los Angeles is balanced with a disappointment that we weren’t able to get it done for our fans in St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland. We’ll continue to try in those markets and we’ll continue to try to address those issues.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1139 Articles

Dennis covers the NFL (Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a proud alum of Howard University.