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Plans for stadium give Inglewood residents a sense of pride

INGLEWOOD — Mayor James Butts says construction will begin on a new football stadium — and the surrounding mixed-use development of retail stores, offices, homes and condominiums — by December with or without a commitment from the St. Louis Rams or any other National Football League team.

Inglewood is headed for a new community branding with a development that will bring the prestige of The Grove or Hollywood and Highland in the city, the mayor said.

“In the next 30 days, we’ll start the permitting process for the Inglewood site,” Butts said.

A year from now, the city should know if the Rams or another NFL team is ready to commit to the planned stadium.

Talks of a new stadium as part of the redevelopment of the former Hollywood Park race track have residents talking like a dark cloud is finally lifting off the city and the stars are aligning in their favor.

“It was very exciting to be at City Hall when it happened,” stadium supporter Adriana Rivera said. “Thank you all for taking a huge step forward for the city of Inglewood. Nothing but great things to come.”

The project is the brainchild of St. Louis Rams owner and real estate mogul Stan Kroenke and Stockbridge Capital Group, which announced a partnership in January to add a privately funded 80,000-seat NFL quality stadium to an existing plan to remix the 298-acre Hollywood Park site, formerly owned by Wal-Mart.

Vaughn Williams III, another local stadium supporter said, “I am excited for the city of Inglewood as this will attract revenue, positive images, hotels, hospitality, more restaurants and most importantly, community values. I am looking forward to the housing component, also.”

Butts acknowledged the feel-good attitude talk of the stadium has created in town in a recent interview.

“City pride is going up; people are having a waiting to exhale moment,” he said. “Nobody will doubt Inglewood ever again.”

According to Mayor Butts, the stadium is being built on the premise that if you build the largest, most gorgeous and iconic stadium, so many types of teams could come: professional, college level and high schools could all eventually call the new Inglewood stadium home.

The city’s revitalization website indicated” “Inglewood schools will benefit, too, as the project is committed to sending $1 million to fund after-school programs for the community’s youth. The project’s developer has already advanced over $4 million to Inglewood Unified School District to help finance school improvements.”

Alan Grossman, an Inglewood NFL stadium fan stated, “What was unfair is the Rams being allowed to move to St. Louis in the first place. What is unfair are teams with absolutely no intention of ever moving to Los Angeles using Los Angeles as leverage. Hopefully, the Rams and Stan Kroenke are sincere.”

“No project is certain until all the issues have been worked out, and the owners have voted to move forward, but two potentially viable projects pushing ahead increases the probability that something could get done,” said Eric Grubman, executive vice president of NFL Ventures and Business Operations. “We are in regular contact with all involved clubs. All clubs have been meeting their responsibilities to keep us informed.”

Grubman added: “I would not yet draw a conclusion that everything gets done, and certainly I would not agree that 2016 is a certainty. There is no reason to slow things down or to speed things up. I believe the owners will vote to move forward when a good and sound proposal is presented, and relocation guidelines have been met. This is a potentially positive development, with lots more work to do.”

AEG, one of the world’s biggest developers of arenas and stadiums and the corporation behind Farmer’s Field, the downtown L.A. stadium project, is pulling out all the stops to destroy both Inglewood’s and Carson’s stadium plans.

“It sounds like the AEG folks are just throwing stuff against the wall and hoping something sticks,” Eric Sussman, a developer who teaches real estate at UCLA, said after reports of studies paid for by AEG said the Inglewood project would be a target for terrorists due to its proximity to Los Angeles International Airport. Another study cited concerns about debris falling from airplanes landing on spectators inside the stadium.

The road to having the most expensive NFL stadium built in the U.S. has come with doubters, but Butts has a response to the naysayers.

“Nobody believed we were bringing back the Forum,” he said. “In 11 months, the Forum has become one of the most successful concert venues in the Greater Los Angeles area. Right now, even as we speak, there is infrastructure work happening for the stadium; people have jobs to take out trees and perform other related work duties.

“Inglewood is headed for a golden renaissance and our people are excited. It’s not just about my success; it’s about Inglewood’s success.”

An artist's rendering of the proposed football stadium in Inglewood,  (Courtesy photos)
An artist’s rendering of the proposed football stadium in Inglewood,
(Courtesy photos)