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Raiders Ready to Move Soon : Pro football: Hollywood Park facility will be home if Rams leave, NFL approves.

April 12, 1995|JOHN CHERWA | TIMES DEPUTY SPORTS EDITOR

The Raiders and Hollywood Park have reached agreement on a plan to build a $200-million stadium at the Inglewood horse racing track, pending the Rams' move to St. Louis and NFL approval.

Sources have told The Times that if the Rams' move to St. Louis is approved today at a special NFL owners meeting in Texas, the issue of the Hollywood Park stadium also will be brought before the owners and is likely to be approved.

If that happens, an announcement on the new stadium could come as soon as Friday with construction to begin no earlier than September. This still would allow the stadium to be completed by the beginning of the 1997 regular season, when the Raiders would start playing there. The team has not announced where it will play this season, although the Coliseum seems the most likely site.

The final two Hollywood Park issues to be ratified are a guarantee by the NFL that the new stadium would be given two and possibly three Super Bowls in a 10-year period and a promise of some financing, either from personal seat licenses or some other form of funding, such as the NFL's stadium trust fund.

If the Rams' move is denied, the Hollywood Park stadium would be put on hold or possibly scrapped because the NFL will only contribute to a new stadium if there is a need to ensure that there is a team in Los Angeles.

The Rams are expected to move to St. Louis, either on a conditional basis or without approval of the league, much like the Raiders did when they moved from Oakland to Los Angeles. If the Rams' move is not official, it remains unclear how that would affect the Hollywood Park stadium plans.

League sources have indicated that the major holdup on the Hollywood Park deal was that Al Davis, managing general partner of the Raiders, and R.D. Hubbard, chief executive officer of Hollywood Park, could not come to an agreement on terms. Davis has had an unsigned agreement on his desk for several months.

However, as time has gotten short and Davis' options have decreased, the issues in disagreement have disappeared and an understanding on all major issues has been reached. Even if the announcement comes this week, Davis is not expected to sign the agreement for another month or two.

Neither Hubbard nor Davis could be reached for comment.

The NFL is not giving the Hollywood Park stadium any exceptional breaks because Southern California traditionally plays host to two or three Super Bowls every 10 years anyway. The NFL already has made an unofficial promise of two Super Bowls, with a third contingent on how well the first two games come off. Because there is no such thing as an unsuccessful Super Bowl, Hollywood Park can be confident of getting three. The loser in this scenario would be the Rose Bowl, which has played host to five Super Bowls.

It also would not be precedent-setting to allow Hollywood Park to use some financing from personal seat licenses, such as was done in Charlotte. In addition, the NFL has established a stadium trust fund that allows teams with facility problems to get money. If the Rams move, undoubtedly some of their relocation money would end up in the fund. Acceptance of either of these plans by the NFL would not be surprising.

Owners will have to vote on both the Super Bowls and stadium financing.

The move would again signal a truce between the NFL and Davis. He and former commissioner Pete Rozelle were openly at odds during Rozelle's last years in office.

However, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is said to have a friendly relationship with Davis and favors the Hollywood Park stadium plan, thus strongly enhancing its chances.

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Times staff writers Bill Plaschke, T.J. Simers and Steve Springer contributed to this story.

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