There have been so many rumors and pie-in-the-sky dreams about a Los Angeles football stadium that we won't believe it's happening until they actually cut the ribbon. But so far, nothing has come to nothing because those dreams were held by rich men hoping to lure an NFL team to L.A. This one's different. The man who just bought a prime, stadium-sized plot of land already owns an NFL team.
The Los Angeles Times reports that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, though an intermediary holding company, has purchased an empty 60-acre lot in Inglewood. It sits between the Forum and Hollywood Park, which closed for good last month and is set to be replaced by a housing, hotel, and retail complex. It's big enough for a stadium and parking, centrally located, and has long been rumored as a potential stadium site.
Back east in St. Louis, Stan Kroenke hasn't been a happy man. He's never publicly committed to keeping the team in town, but has often not-so-subtly raised the specter of Los Angeles if he doesn't get what he wants: public funding for an upgraded stadium. In 2012, the city rejected a plan that would have pumped $700 million in taxpayer dollars into improvements on the Edward Jones Dome, and that has practical ramifications—a clause in the Rams' lease states that if the stadium isn't one of the league's eight best by the end of next season, the lease converts to a year-to-year deal. The land and the lease, two of the bigger obstacles for any team looking to move to L.A., are already taken care of for Kroenke.
A third, too: Last week the city of Pasadena won a long legal battle that will allow the Rose Bowl to host an NFL team while a new L.A. Stadium is under construction.
Which doesn't mean this is actually happening. Los Angeles has long existed as a bogeyman to invoke as leverage any time a team wants public cash for its stadium. Give it to us or we're out of here. Physically buying the land for a stadium could merely be more and better leverage for Kroenke. But he's willing, and increasingly able to actually follow through on his threats. This is now a high-stakes game of chicken, and St. Louis could eventually blink—but the machinations of relocation have to start somewhere.