Advertisement
 

NFL commissioner downplays Rams owner's purchase of L.A. site

Roger Goodell says that Stan Kroenke's purchase of the land doesn't necessarily mean the St. Louis team plans to relocate, but the Rams owner has kept the league informed of the purchase.

January 31, 2014|By Sam Farmer

Get Adobe Flash player

NEW YORK — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday that just because Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams, recently purchased 60 acres adjacent to Hollywood Park, it doesn't mean Kroenke plans to relocate the Rams to the Los Angeles area.

"Stan is a very large developer on a global basis; he has land throughout the country and throughout the world," Goodell said at his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference. "He has kept us informed of it. We're aware of it. There are no plans, to my knowledge, of a stadium development. Anything that would require any kind of stadium development requires multiple votes of the membership."

On Friday, the Kroenke Organization acknowledged that it recently purchased a 60-acre swath in Inglewood that sits between the now-defunct Hollywood Park Racetrack and the Forum. According to public documents of the transaction, the land was transferred Jan. 9 from previous owner Wal-Mart to Pincay Re LLC, a holding company owned by Kroenke. The sale was first reported by The Times on Thursday.

"As real estate developers, the Kroenke Organizations are involved in numerous real estate deals across the country and North America," a spokesperson for the developer wrote in an email statement.

"While we can confirm media reports that we recently purchased land in Inglewood, as a private company we don't typically discuss our plans for commercial or residential investments. We have yet to decide what we are going to do with the property, but we will look at all options, as we do with all our properties."

The Rams, who are at an impasse with the city of St. Louis regarding improvements to the Edward Jones Dome, can get out of their lease by March 2015.

This purchase heightens speculation that Kroenke might intend to move the team, or at least that he's ratcheting up the pressure on St. Louis to get a deal done. The piece of Inglewood land is probably too small for a stadium and parking lot, but there is potentially more land to be had in the area with the recent closing of Hollywood Park.

The mere fact Kroenke kept the league apprised of his dealings in the L.A. area is noteworthy. Goodell said it is league policy that owners "keep us informed of any developments or anything that's going on in the Los Angeles market."

However, two other team owners, New England's Robert Kraft and San Diego's Dean Spanos, said it's their understanding they would not have to inform the league office about any type of acquisitions in the L.A. area unless it had something to do with developing a stadium there.

Spanos said if he wanted to buy a house in L.A., for instance, he wouldn't have to tell the league. But if an owner intended to do something "that pertains to a stadium effort or a move, you have to keep the league informed."

Any potential Rams-related maneuverings in the L.A. area by Kroenke are of particular interest to Spanos, who has been working for 12 years to get a new stadium in San Diego and draws part of his team's fan base from L.A.

"If a team moved into the L.A. market, it would have a significant negative impact on the San Diego Chargers," Spanos said. "A huge percentage of our business comes from Orange County and L.A. [The NFL is] aware of it, and I'm sure most of the owners are aware of it."

Asked what he would say to St. Louis fans worried about their team moving back to L.A., Goodell said: "[Kroenke] has billions of dollars of projects that are going on around the country in real estate development. So I think instead of overreacting, we should make sure we do what's necessary to continue to support the team locally, which the fans have done in St. Louis, and make sure we can do whatever we can to make sure that team is successful in the St. Louis market."

In order to relocate a franchise, an owner would need a three-quarters-majority vote of the 32 NFL owners, meaning any such relocation could be blocked by a coalition of nine or more owners. If an owner were to unilaterally move the franchise without the blessing of the league, he would be ineligible for league loans or Super Bowls, which are used to defray the cost of a new stadium. That's how the NFL controls the L.A. market.

"We definitely want a team in L.A.," Kraft said. "It's a big capital commitment, and there are so many good choices of things to do in L.A., we need to make sure we have the right owner and the right facility. Until at least 24 owners feel that, we won't have it. Personally, I would like to see a team in L.A. as soon as possible."

What the league hasn't identified, at least publicly, is the so-called relocation fee that would be associated with a move back to the nation's second-largest market. NFL owners are not simply going to hand the L.A. market over to an individual owner without exacting a hefty payment for doing so.

Asked whether there's any scenario in which a relocation fee would not be involved, Kraft said: "I think it would be pretty hard to get 24 votes to give that … that will be a very high fee for whoever does that."

sam.farmer@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesfarmer

Times staff writer Roger Vincent contributed to this report.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|