Mayor James Butts

Petition drive starts in Inglewood

By Gene C. Johnson Jr.
Contributing Writer

INGLEWOOD — A coalition of residents and community leaders kicked off a petition drive Saturday at Faithful Central Bible Church, beginning a signature-gathering process that would place on the ballot sometime this year a measure authorizing voters to add a sports entertainment district — including an 80,000-seat stadium — to the already-approved Hollywood Park plan.

Backers of the City of Champions Revitalization Initiative have about 180 days to gather enough signatures to place the initiative on a 2015 municipal ballot, needing about 15 percent of Inglewood registered voters — or 8,000 to 9,000 signatures — to place the initiative on the ballot.

Once the signatures are turned in, officials have 30 days to verify them. The election would cost the city anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000, Inglewood Mayor James Butts said.

Still, the investment would yield a return that would keep the city in the black for several years to come and provide a windfall of jobs for the community.

“I’m in favor of [the initiative],” Butts said. “This city has come far in the last few years. We could host the World Cup, the Final Four — any number of world-class events.”

So, if approved by voters, the city could have an 80,000-stadium, not to mention a 6,000-seat performing arts theater.

Through vote approval, the 298-acre, previously approved Hollywood Park project would be reconfigured for up to up to 890,000 square feet of retail stores, 780,000 square feet of office space, 2,500 new residential units, a 300-room hotel, and 25 acres of public parks, playgrounds and open space, officials said.

“Ultimately, five or six years from now, that’s $30 million more in revenue, each fiscal year [for the city],” said Chris Meany, senior vice president for the Hollywood Park Land Company, the project developer. “That’s more than a third of the city’s budget right now.”

Most importantly, will be new jobs for the community, said D’Artagnan Scorza, group leader of the City of Champions Revitalization Initiative.

“We know the initiative is going to bring about construction jobs,” Scorza said. “The people are really enthusiastic about this. We’re a growing coalition. We have some amazing folks who are dedicated to this process. In terms of sponsorship, the Hollywood Park Land Company has really been a help to us.”

The Hollywood Park Land Company is a joint venture between Stockbridge Capital Group and the Kroenke Group, whose founder, E. Stanley Kroenke, also owns the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

Stockbridge, a real estate investment management firm, purchased the original 238-acre Hollywood Park site in 2005. The Kroenke Group, a commercial real estate and development company, purchased an adjacent 60-acre parcel in 2013. Stockbridge and Kroenke joined efforts through the Hollywood Park Land Company venture in 2014 to develop the expanded Inglewood project.

According to the company, the expanded project will also create employment opportunities for Inglewood residents and businesses.

Specifically, the project will adhere to the provisions from the city’s 2009 approval, which established a goal of at least 30 percent participation of minority/disadvantaged business enterprises in the construction of the project and adds a goal of hiring qualified Inglewood residents for at least 35 percent of long-term, post-construction jobs at the property.

The 80,000-seat stadium will be designed by HKS Inc., an international architecture firm headquartered in Dallas, Texas, whose recent projects include the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers ball park in Arlington, Texas, and the Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.