The proposal for Farmers Field would put an NFL stadium in downtown L.A., right next to Staples Center. (Courtesy of Farmers Field)
Any discussion about a potential Los Angeles NFL stadium must first start with a chat about a current NFL stadium in need of upgrades. Cue St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchasing a 60-acre parking lot in Inglewood, Calif., nestled between the Hollywood Park racetrack and newly renovated Forum.
This news comes on the heels of the Rams proving unable to successfully convince St. Louis to embark on drastic upgrades to the 1995-opened Edward Jones Dome. And the Kroenke lease expires after 2014.
Let’s talk L.A., shall we?
As we all know by know, the nation’s second-largest market hasn’t had the NFL since 1994, when both the Rams and Raiders vacated the city. And while the NFL flirts with London, whether Wembley Stadium or even a potential new Tottenham soccer-football hybrid, L.A. lingers.
Whether the billionaire sports owner wants the new land -- purchased from Walmart following its failed attempt to place a store there -- about 10 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles for a stadium or some other business venture, it proves an ample time to remind us that we already have two NFL-sized L.A. stadium proposals on the table. Even if supper has gotten a bit cold on us all.
The Kroenke site
Sixty acres is a large parcel of property. The NFL’s smallest site, Seattle’s CenturyLink Field fits onto 30 acres. The new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara rests on 40 acres. But big-time stadiums can require big-time land, as the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium covers over 73 acres and New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium 75. Without ample parking -- remember, the property purchased is the parking -- 60 acres might be a smidge small, for L.A. standards.
But if Kroenke can’t get the $700 million upgrades he wants to bring the stadium he leases in St. Louis up to par with the top venues in the league, then maybe 60 acres will work just fine. An Interstate 110 trek away from downtown, the site is already home to sporting structures. And the L.A. area is well warmed up to the idea of a brand-new football building.
Los Angeles Stadium at Grand crossing
We’ve come a long way since Ed Roski, co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings, announced plans to build Los Angeles Stadium at Grand Crossing in 2008. Located in Industry, Calif., Roski says his site is a crossroads location, accessible to over 15.5 million people and just 20 minutes east of downtown L.A., 15 minutes from Disneyland and equal distance from Newport Beach and Hollywood.
The proposed 75,000-seat venue designed by architecture firm Aedas would get built right into the area’s hillside, just one small piece in a plan to turn an entire 600-acre site near the interchange of the 60 and 57 freeways into an entirely new entertainment and retail destination.
Then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger got involved in 2009 and agreements were formed that require the city of Industry to make improvements to the city-owned site whether or not Roski ever builds a stadium. With momentum hot from 2008 right through '09, we’re reminded that it has been a long time since 2009.
AEG owner and billionaire Phil Anschutz floated his own plan for the NFL in Los Angeles in 2010, offering up a 68,000-seat stadium in downtown L.A., adjacent to the convention center, L.A. Live and the Staples Center. It grew so popular so fast that Farmers Insurance bought up the naming rights to what is now known as Farmers Field.
The privately funded $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium would tap into the existing infrastructure of the entertainment district to support traffic and parking, something much needed on the minuscule 15 acres of land the stadium must squeeze onto. With the city already on board with the plan, Farmers Field has cleared all the major non-NFL hurdles for their Gensler-designed venue.
Of course, those NFL hurdles sit the highest of all.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.