So what can Kroenke, new facility do for Inglewood…?

Friday, May 20, 2016 1:17 AM

Welcome to Inglewood, city of championsWhen entering Inglewood, the driver is greeted with a sign welcoming him/her to “The City of Champions.” Some truth exists within the bold proclamation, but such glories are at present in Inglewood’s past: specifically, the trophy case of this would-be Titletown holds six titles the “Los Angeles” Lakers won there before the franchise jumped ship along with the then title-less Los Angeles Kings just in time for Shaq ‘n’ Kobe to assert their dominance over the NBA from the Staples Center.

This is the sporting legacy the Los Angeles Rams 2.0 will be stepping into once Stan Kroenke’s new digs on the old Hollywood Park grounds are completed in 2019 or so. In terms of the Inglewood economy, well, that’s a fight for the Rams franchise that could prove more challenging than bagging the town a Lombardi Trophy.

In income, unemployment and economic growth, Inglewood lags behind the United States in general and the state of California specifically in nearly every metric. And while tech companies including Yahoo and Google have brought jobs to the area, the economic malaise seems as unliftable here as in any American town.

Kroenke’s stadium, something of a Hail Maryesque solution, is being touted by city officials as already achieving positive benefits. Writes Lauren Herstik of the New York Times:

Now, just as [property] values have increased in markets affected by the Los Angeles International Airport, Inglewood expects to see the same.

“Since January 12 when the announcement was made, if a realtor puts a sign on a property in the morning, by the time they get back to the office in the afternoon, they usually have five to six offers, $10,000 to $20,000 over asking price,” [Inglewood mayor James] Butts said.

Of course, one cannot discuss the business of sports (and sports stadiums) without checking in on the realistics of just how much such facilities bring to the surrounding community. Herstik tempers the mayor’s enthusiasm with

Conventional wisdom holds that stadiums, usually partly financed with public money, tend to have minimal positive effects on local economies, said Adie Tomer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit research group.

“NFL stadiums are used little more than 10 times a year,” Tomer said. “And as we’ve supersized our sports facilities, much like other components of American life, it has become difficult to integrate them into the fabric of our cities.”

But in the case of the Inglewood stadium, he added, “Typical rules may not apply.”

Right. Most primarily, Tomer is talking about the uniqueness of the Ingelwood project, whose main selling point to NFL interests has always been Kroenke’s willingness to foot the bill on building costs. And the city itself need not feel any economic pinch until more than $25 million in tax revenue is generated by the venue in a given fiscal year.

In addition, Kroenke’s pleasure palace will include a 6000-seat entertainment venue in order to have the facility generating cash well more than that “10 times a year.”

(We should note that, in order for a stadium to be used as a home venue 10 times in an NFL season, that team is probably a no. 1 or 2 seed within the conference for the playoffs. We should hope to be so lucky with the Rams within the next three seasons – and before then, the Los Angeles area even loses home dates to London and China.)

No wonder Kroenke was named the single most powerful person in Los Angeles sports. While is confident the fans will rally around the team, an economic boomlet would mean a heck of a lot more for the people of Inglewood. Generating some financial good for this are would earn Mr. Kroenke a loftier title – Most Influential Person in Sports, perhaps…?

– written by Os Davis