Build It and They Will Come? It’s a Gamble, at Best | Sports Destination Management

Build It and They Will Come? It’s a Gamble, at Best

Jan 07, 2015 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

In Los Angeles, the stadium story seems to be all about location, location, location – and not at all about the move. Nor even the promise of a move, much less a tenant.

According to an article in USA Today, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is planning to build an 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, Calif., without making any assurances that the Rams – or any other NFL team, for that matter, would move into that stadium.

Yes, you read that correctly. The owner of the St. Louis Rams is planning to build a stadium in California.

It’s a gamble not many would consider taking – and it’s one that has officials scratching their heads.

The mayor of Inglewood even told USA TODAY Sports that Kroenke never talked to him about which team or teams might have an interest in the stadium once it is completed – at a probable price tag over more than $1 billion. The stadium is a piece of a multi-billion dollar development plan on the former site of the Hollywood Park horse racing track.

"We never discussed relocation," said Inglewood Mayor James Butts Jr.

Kroenke and his partners instead plan to build the stadium "on spec," banking on securing a team – or two – once they start the construction process.

So is this a case of ‘If you build it, they will come?’ Are Kroenke and his development partners willing to invest billions of dollars – with no public funds – to build a state-of-art new stadium without an NFL team locked in – but with the thought that it’s an irresistible lure?

"That's exactly what it is," Butt said. "I'm sure the people who are going to be heavily into this, they probably know more than I do. But I will tell you this: They have never said the Rams are going to come. Never."

A message seeking comment from Kroenke and the Rams was not returned.

It certainly would not be the first time a new stadium – or the promise of one – has been used as leverage to get a team to pull up stakes. And the Rams are unhappy in their current stadium and are able to leave their lease for greener pastures without a prohibitive penalty, just like two other NFL teams: the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.

Inglewood is located just a few miles from the international airport in Los Angeles, which hasn't had an NFL team since the Rams and Raiders left in 1995. 

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