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St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announces plan to build Los Angeles stadium

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke also owns the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets. (2000 Associated Press photo)

Los Angeles has been without an NFL team since 1994, when the Rams and Raiders left the area. Now, one of those teams seems to have taken a big step toward returning to America’s second-largest media market.

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced to the Los Angeles Times on Monday that he will build an 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, joining forces with another developer who already has plans to build a massive retail, office, hotel and residential development on the site of the former Hollywood Park racecourse. Kroenke will build the stadium on 60 acres he purchased last year that’s adjacent to the Forum, the former home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings that is now used as a music venue.

The Rams have long sought upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome, which opened in 1995 but is considered outdated in comparison with other NFL stadiums. The city of St. Louis has until the end of the month to come up with a plan to renovate the stadium. If it fails to do so, or if the team doesn’t agree with the city’s plan, the Rams can convert their lease to a month-to-month agreement, which would seemingly clear the way for the team to return to Southern California for the 2016 season.

Late last year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would not consider any relocation applications for the 2015 season. The Times reports that the new stadium could be ready in time for the 2018 season, with a relocated team playing either at the Los Angeles Coliseum or the Rose Bowl until it’s finished.

According to Kroenke and his development partner, Stockbridge Capital Group, the stadium and adjacent development will be privately financed (Kroenke and his wife, the daughter of Wal-Mart co-founder Sam Walton, are each worth more than $5 billion). They would need the support of voters in Inglewood, which is seen as a sure thing, according to the Times:

The developers said no tax dollars would be used for the construction project, including the stadium. The group plans to begin gathering signatures soon for an initiative that would place the entire project on the Inglewood municipal ballot in 2015.
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. said he was “extremely supportive” of the ballot initiative that would add the sports and entertainment complex to the already-approved Hollywood Park development and speed construction. The stadium could be completed by 2018, the developers said.
“This will hasten the time for the citizens of Inglewood to get the project they deserve,” Butts said. “This is something they have waited for for a long time.”

There are two other stadium proposals on the table for the Los Angeles area, a downtown stadium plan pitched by entertainment giant AEG and one proposed for the City of Industry, east of downtown. But neither of those proposals are attached to a specific NFL team.

Any NFL team that seeks to relocate must receive the approval of three-fourths of the NFL’s owners.