When it comes to landing an NFL team, Inglewood, population 111,905, is the little city that could.
Big, bad Los Angeles approved a downtown stadium project in 2011.But, just as the NFL finally, really warmed up to the idea of moving a team here last year, the project was dead.
Inglewood did what L.A. City Hall couldn’t, not only fast-tracking approval of Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s plans for a 70,000-plus venue in less than half the time it took Los Angeles to get it together, but putting forth a project that NFL owners got behind this week when they voted to approve Inglewood over Carson’s own NFL dreams.
Yet, if you let your eyes and ears take in various reports yesterday, the man of the hour was one Eric Garcetti, mayor of the city of Los Angeles.
He didn’t seem to mention Mayor James T. Butts, leader of the actual city where the Rams will play in 2018 or 2019 when the more than $1.8 billion stadium is ready for action.
Garcetti appeared to hog the spotlight, despite having virtually nothing to do with Wednesday’s NFL decision.
“I always said this was good for the region,” the mayor said at a press conference. “My first choice was here in downtown initially, but the hotels that are in the city of L.A. will still be filled during these games. The construction jobs will still go to the men and women who live here.”
The mayor appeared before reporters, and he spoke to various outlets, including the NFL Network in Culver City.
“This kind of cements what I believe about Los Angeles, that this is the best city in the world for sports,” Garcetti told journalists. “The last part of our resume that was missing.”
“I was frequently in conversation with my fellow mayors in the region with the commissioner, with the owners, over the last couple of years,” he said. ” I had lunches with them, tried to facilitate, let them know this was a unified region, for whatever team … ”
Inglewood city officials who did not want their names used said Garcetti did no such thing when it comes to being “frequently in conversation” with Butts.
We were told Inglewood’s mayor did not want to comment.
But other sources made clear to us they felt that Los Angeles’ top politician was taking credit and overshadowing Inglewood during a red-letter day.
That Inglewood is a traditionally African American city that has had its share of biased press coverage hasn’t helped, the sources argued.
“Somehow, there is an odd effort by some in the city to the north (Los Angeles) to diminish Inglewood’s success by suggesting football has returned to Los Angeles a grand city in its own right who also vied to be the destination for the National Football League,” said Marc T. Little, president of the Inglewood Airport Area Chamber of Commerce. “Certainly, the return of the NFL to the second largest media market in the nation benefits all Angelenos, but we must give credit where credit is due.”
Inglewood city officials echoed that sentiment, saying the underdog town succeeded where others failed but did not draw much attention yesterday from national and local media.
Despite tremendous success attracting sports and entertainment facilities, including a redeveloped Forum, Inglewood’s minority population results in less respect, officials argued.
To be fair, Los Angeles is less than one-third white.
In any case, Little wants to set the record straight about who the real winner here is:
The return of football to Southern California has been attempted over the past 20 years by some of the most influential leaders of our time. However, a small group of unified civic leaders and staff led by Mayor James Butts in the City of Inglewood in partnership with a developer (Wilson Meany Sullivan), who had the foresight and temerity to bet on Inglewood with no promise of reward, accomplished the impossible. And with the commitment and heft of Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke, Inglewood is the newest home for Americas’ greatest sport.
The work of these Inglewood leaders and visionaries resulted in the extraordinary. So, let’s be clear, the National Football League landed in Inglewood this week-the City of Champions.
BY: DENNIS ROMERO of LA Weekly
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders filed applications for relocation to Los Angeles on Monday night.
As expected on the first day NFL rules would allow, the league confirmed that the paperwork was officially filed and received.
According to the NFL’s statement on the filings, each proposal contained the “appropriate documentation in support of its application, as required by the NFL Policy and Procedures for Proposed Franchise Relocations” and is intended to be effective for the 2016 NFL season.
The Chargers revealed their intentions first and went so far as to have owner Dean Spanos appear in a video on the team’s website to explain the decision for filing.
“It was very difficult to come to this decision,” Spanos said. “It’s been 14 years that we’ve been working very hard to try and get something done here. We’ve had nine different proposals that we’ve made, and all of them were basically rejected by the city.
“Over 25 percent of our business comes from Riverside County, Orange County and the Los Angeles County area. Another team or teams going in there would have a huge impact on that. I think that is what really was the catalyst that got this whole thing going because when the Rams decided to make their move there, this was a move to protect our business more than anything, so we find ourselves where we do right now.”
The Rams and Raiders followed with their own confirmations:
“The St. Louis Rams informed the National Football League today that the Rams propose to relocate to the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. The relocation would be effective for the 2016 NFL League Year.”
“In accordance with the relocation policies, the Oakland Raiders submitted a relocation package to the NFL. The matter is now in the hands of the NFL’s owners. An owners’ meeting is scheduled to take place in Houston, Texas, on January 12 and 13, 2016.”
Now that all three teams have officially declared their intents, it is up to the NFL’s owners to decide which of the teams gets to follow through. It’s a three-team, two-stadium race that could get some resolution as soon as the Jan. 12-13 owners meetings.
To that end, the 17 members of the league’s finance, stadium and Los Angeles committees will gather in New York on Wednesday and Thursday. There, the committees will hear extended pitches for the Carson and Inglewood projects.
There’s plenty to consider for not just those 17 owners but also the rest of the owners who will ultimately decide the fate of the three teams and four cities.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke has proposed a $1.86 billion stadium project in Inglewood, the project that essentially jump-started this whole affair. But Kroenke has received opposition from the city of St. Louis, which has put forth a $1.1 billion stadium proposal on the city’s north riverfront. St. Louis’ plan, which was finalized and submitted to the NFL on Dec. 29, includes $400 million in actionable public money.
The St. Louis stadium task forced sent out a statement of its own after the Rams formally filed for relocation Monday.
“We’ve anticipated this filing from the Rams for more than a year,” the statement said. “It’s why we started working in November 2014 to produce a viable St. Louis stadium proposal for consideration by the Rams and the National Football League. That proposal was delivered last week to the NFL and team owners, and we feel extremely confident that it will be well received as the league weighs its options in the weeks ahead.”
Meanwhile in California, the Chargers and Raiders have forged an alliance to propose a $1.75 billion NFL stadium in Carson. The two teams currently play in the two oldest stadiums in the NFL and, after years without much progress toward new venues in their current markets, have set their sights on Carson.
San Diego and Oakland made submissions to the NFL before the Dec. 30 deadline, but neither plan is considered to be “actionable” by the NFL right now. San Diego’s plan calls for a public vote later this year, and Oakland only sent a letter saying the city is discussing options but had no formal proposal.
It is believed that the NFL’s six-member committee on Los Angeles Opportunities will make a formal recommendation to the rest of the ownership at or before the full meetings in Houston. The NFL requires 24 votes to approve a team’s relocation proposal.
Courtesy of Nick Wagoner
ESPN Staff Writer