By Dennis J. Freeman
INGLEWOOD — Just about every week something in the way of development seems to engulf the city of Inglewood. A couple of weeks ago, city officials and members of the Los Angeles Clippers held a joint press conference about the proposed basketball arena that could eventually house the NBA franchise despite ongoing opposition from some residents.
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts and the City Council were at it again June 26, taking part in a ceremonial event that highlighted a milestone in the construction of the Los Angeles Stadium & Entertainment District at Hollywood Park. The stadium is the future home of the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.
“We are so proud to be here. We have a long way to go, but it’s clear that this stadium is well on its way to the NFL’s 2020 season,” Butts said. “This will not just be a great sports venue and entertainment district. This will be the most fantastic district in the western United States. And Inglewood needs to know that this is being built with private dollars. That’s the exception, not the rule for most stadiums around the country.”
During his speech, Butts went on to praise Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the entire organization for its community outreach and ways to incorporate Inglewood residents into the fold when it comes to employment opportunities in and around the stadium construction.
“Mr. Stan Kroenke and his team, by the way, have made extraordinary commitments to the city,” Butts said. “They pledged to hire qualified Inglewood residents first, and they have. But they’ve also established a protocol, hiring interns and trainees who want to learn the business and work on the stadium. So, this is not just about building a stadium. It’s about building new lives and exciting opportunities for families and for people who haven’t worked before this project. Also, businesses around are benefitting.”
Besides Butts and the City Council, those attending the ceremony and lunch, included NFL Network analyst and host Steve Wyche, Turner/AECOM Hunt Principal in Charge Robert Aylesworth Jr., and representatives from the Rams and Chargers. John Spanos (president of football operations) and A.G. Spanos (president of business operations) gave the Chargers solid representation at the event.
“Today is just so exciting,” A.G. Spanos said. “When you look at the structure, two years seems so close now with the topping out ceremony. Today, to reach this point, it’s so great. It’s truly remarkable what this construction team has accomplished.”
Luminaries weren’t the only ones attending the ceremony. As many as 1,500 stadium construction workers were on hand as well.
“I’m truly honored to be part of this topping out ceremony,” Wyche said. “This is my maiden voyage out to the stadium project. So, I’m really excited to see all the hard work you all have put in, and not too long from now, this whole thing will be coming to fruition.”
The big deal about the stadium topping out event is that a 12,000-pound, 42-foot long beam was placed at the highest point of the stadium bowl. The celebratory topping out ceremony takes place when a construction project places the highest beam on the structure being erected. For the Chargers and Rams, that is a significant achievement in the building of the future home of the two NFL franchises.
With a slated 2020 opening, the stadium is 40 percent complete. The hyperbole and excitement around the new stadium is beginning to match the expected grandeur of the three million square foot palace.
For John Spanos, to see how far the stadium construction has come along, is indeed seeing the future being flushed out to its eventual purpose.
“Today is an awesome day,” John Spanos said. “It’s been a long time coming. To see how far they’ve come, it shows the future is now; we’re here. I was out here in January for a media day, and to see how much progress has been made just from January is really remarkable. The work that this construction team has done is outstanding. Today is about honoring them and honoring all the work they have done around the clock to see the progress they’ve made.”