It looks like it is finally a real possibility. Los Angeles, the hub of Southern California, is finally going to get a football stadium, and a real live football team to go along with it.
The probable site for the team is Inglewood, with a new stadium designed to accommodate not only football, but soccer and basketball as well. Although it is not typical to combine football and basketball in one stadium, the brilliance of the design makes it an ideal venue to host a variety of events.
The massive project will include an 80,000-seat stadium, including a 6,000-seat performance venue, and a plan, already approved for Hollywood Park, which will feature retail and office space. The plan also includes residential housing, a hotel with 300 rooms and 25 acres for bicycles and pedestrians, playgrounds, public parks and open space.
Los Angeles has two popular baseball teams, two popular hockey teams, and two popular (well, the Clippers are growing in popularity) basketball teams. The only thing missing is a football team for Southern California fans to call their own. Sports fans in Los Angeles need and deserve a football team, and Stan Kroenke is in the position to bring one.
Does it matter if the new team is one that has been here and left? Will it make a difference if it is the Raiders, Rams or Chargers who come to town? Will fans be any less excited if it is an altogether new franchise? The answer to all of these questions should be no. The football fans of Southern California want a team, and while it looks pretty clear that the team will be the Rams, the franchise is less important than the fact that fans can now look forward to going to games locally and cheering for a team locally. The local business community can look forward to an increase in traffic and what the increased revenue will mean to the local economy.
Thousands of fans in Los Angeles can prepare to change their allegiance from whichever team they started following after the Rams moved to St. Louis and the Raiders moved back to Oakland. While initially, many fans will not be able to look past the history of the franchise and their perceived betrayal by Georgia Frontiere, a new slew of fans will be born.
It may be difficult to earn a following for the new team in those fans whose allegiances shifted to teams like the Denver Broncos, the San Diego Chargers, the San Francisco ’49ers, and even to the Oakland Raiders, but the new stadium and team that comes with it will not be affected. A beautifully-built stadium will draw the curious. A beautifully-built football team will draw fans.
Football fans in Los Angeles do not have a football team, and football fans in Los Angeles want a football team. If Stan Kroenke can bring Los Angeles a team that can contend – a team that can make their way to the playoffs within the first few years of the move – the fans in Southern California will support the team; some immediately, and some more gradually.
The moral to Stan Kroenke is this: If he builds it, they will come. The organization is sure to make more than enough money to justify the move.
Commentary by Jennifer Barclay