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Rams Owner Proposes NFL Stadium in Inglewood

HMG-CN Sports Wire

It has now been over 20 years since the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams left town for the greener pastures of St. Louis, Missouri, leaving football fans in the nation’s second largest sports market with little to cheer about on Sunday afternoons.

That may soon change with reports that St. Louis Rams owner Sam Kroenke is planning to build a new 80,000-seat football stadium on the site of the former Hollywood Park race track in Inglewood.

It would appear there is more to Kroenke’s plan than mere talk, following the Rams’ recent move to convert their current lease at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis to a year-to-year arrangement, enabling them to relocate on short notice.

In late January, a partnership group led by Kroenke, and including San Francisco-based developers Wilson Meany and investment management firm Stockbridge Capital Group, filed more than 20,000 signatures with Los Angeles County officials, supporting required changes to zoning at the Inglewood site, potentially enabling the measure to be put to a vote sometime in 2015.

The response in St. Louis has been swift, but may prove to be too little, too late. Early plans have been announced to build a 64,000 seat riverfront stadium, at a projected cost of $1 billion, in an effort to keep the Rams in St. Louis.

In a recent visit to St. Louis to discuss stadium options with representatives of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman stated that the league is committed to finding a solution that keeps the current Rams in St. Louis. However, when asked if a new stadium was a necessary part of such a solution, he answered with a blunt “Yes”.

Assuming that Kroenke & Co.’s plans for a new Inglewood stadium clear the remaining legal and financial hurdles, the Rams would then need to win the votes of 24 of the NFL’s 32 team owners to move ahead with relocation to the Los Angeles area in time for the 2016 NFL season.

With construction of the proposed Inglewood facility expected to take over two years, the Rams would need to find a temporary home, with their previous home at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, along with the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and Dodger Stadium all reported as possible candidates.

The Rams have experienced highs and lows since relocating to St. Louis prior to the start of the 1995 NFL season. After reaching the Super Bowl just once during their years in Los Angeles, losing 31-19 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIV, the St. Louis Rams ended a nine-year playoff drought with their first Super Bowl title in 2000, topping the Tennessee Titans with a thrilling 23-16 win, led by QB Kurt Warner, who was also named Super Bowl MVP.

St. Louis returned to the Super Bowl two year later, losing 20-17 to this year’s Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. But wins have been few and far between for the Rams, who last appeared in the playoffs in 2004, while compiling a winning record in just one of their last 10 seasons.

The 2014 NFL campaign got off to a rough start for the Rams following a season-ending injury to QB Sam Bradford. The team entertained fans in St. Louis with unlikely victories over the powerhouse Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, but finished at the bottom of the NFC West standings for the sixth time in the last eight years.