With the NFL’s St. Louis Rams rumored to be departing for a new Stan Kroenke-developed stadium in greater Los Angeles, St. Louis officials are responding with plans for a new St. Louis stadium.
The renderings, developed by HOK and first posted by SI’s Peter King, are conceptual, to be sure, but they give city officials something to hold onto as they attempt to keep the Rams. A city committee has been tasked with finding a way to keep the Rams in St. Louis, and their solution is a $1 billion, 64,000-seat open-air riverfront football stadium.
That the NFL will return to Los Angeles is a given. What’s not a given is the number of new stadiums built to host teams, and whether there will be multiple teams in the market. Kroenke has already received city approval for his new Inglewood stadium at Hollywood Park, and both the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders said they’re talking with Carson officials about a new stadium should their efforts at new stadiums in San Diego and Oakland, respectively, fail. King argues that two new stadiums in Los Angeles won’t happen; given that private investment is already proceeding from the likes of Goldman Sachs, he may be incorrect. From SI.com:
The NFL told any team investigating Los Angeles to be sure to include in the stadium design the ability to add a second team. The St. Louis plan in Inglewood does that—obviously, so does the Carson site. No one expects two stadiums to be built in Los Angeles. But, increasingly, there is an expectation that one stadium will be built in greater Los Angeles, and it will house one or two teams. Kroenke’s plan is the most advanced….
Which leads us to this unfortunate part of the story: Kroenke seems (and I say “seems,” because of his actions, not because of his words—there have been none) to be the most determined owner to want to move to Los Angeles. The Chargers and Raiders want to stay put. But San Diego and Oakland have nothing stadiumwise in the works. St. Louis is by far the most aggressive with the best plan to keep the Rams, right down to an agreement to clear a 90-acre blighted plot downtown to make way for the stadium. And get this: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has an agreement with skilled construction workers in eastern Missouri to work round the clock (three eight-hour shifts a day, every day) so the stadium could be finished in 24 months … without workers taking overtime. That’s significant because if the first shovel goes in the ground by this August, the NFL could have a pristine new St. Louis stadium built in time for the 2017 season. (That’s likely too fast a timetable; it’s more probable that stadium construction would start later, and the venue would be ready in 2018 or in time for the NFL’s 100th season, in 2019.)
King also echoes one scenario that seems to be gaining some currency: San Diego and St. Louis to the new Inglewood stadium, the Raiders to St. Louis.