Officials believe new NFL team in Los Angeles could harm Chargers

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – With yet another proposal unveiled Monday to build a large sports stadium in the Los Angeles area, the man helping the Chargers search for a new playing facility said team officials continue to believe their business would be harmed if another National Football League franchise moved to Southern California.

A group that includes St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced plans to develop an 80,000-seat stadium and 6,000-seat arena on land near the former Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood.

The Rams and Oakland Raiders, both of which used to play in L.A., are frequently mentioned as candidates to move there, as are the Chargers.

The Hollywood Park Land Co. — a joint venture between Stockbridge Capital Group, a real estate investment management firm, and the Kroenke Group real estate development firm — said the Inglewood stadium would be built regardless of whether an NFL team wants to move there.

The project requires the approval of voters in Inglewood, a city near Los Angeles International Airport that is already the home of the Forum, a concert venue that was previously home to the Lakers and Los Angeles Kings.

The announcement of a planned stadium and Kroenke’s involvement sparked immediate buzz about a possible return of the NFL to Los Angeles. Such a move, however, would require approval from the league.

In a series of emails with City News Service, Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani said, “We really don’t have much new to say today. We have in the past addressed the problems created for the Chargers if another team, or teams, relocates to LA.”

In October, owner Dean Spanos told Sports Business Daily that roughly 25-30 percent of the franchise’s business comes from Los Angeles and Orange counties.

“Putting a team in there right now, or two teams, would would have a huge impact on our business going forward,” Spanos told the publication. “So we are trying to protect our business in San Diego. … It would really be harmful to us.”

Spanos also said he’s discussed the issue with fellow owners and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Fabiani said the Chargers are in “regular contact” with representatives of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer regarding the team’s desire for a new playing facility. The team has been looking around the county for a new home for more than a dozen years, with the most recent ideas being a site near Petco Park in the East Village or incorporating a stadium into an expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

It was reported recently that Faulconer would unveil a Chargers stadium plan sometime this month.

Fabiani said discussions with the mayor’s office are in a “preliminary” stage, and there is no proposal for San Diego that they know about.

The Rams franchise is unhappy with the quality of its existing home in the Edward Jones Dome. Kroenke’s Inglewood plans will likely ratchet up pressure on St. Louis to either strike a deal for a new stadium or watch the team return to Southern California, where it played from 1946 to 1994.

Under the team’s current deal, the franchise can end its 30-year lease a decade early because it has not reached an agreement with St. Louis officials on improvements to the stadium, the Los Angeles Times reported. The sides remain about $575 million apart. St. Louis is expected to offer the team a new proposal by month’s end.

Monday’s announcement is the latest in more than a dozen stadium proposals that have come and gone in the two-decade effort to bring an NFL franchise back to the nation’s second-largest media market. But Kroenke’s move marks the first time an existing team owner has controlled a local site large enough for a stadium and parking.

Kroenke, a billionaire who built his fortune in real estate, has the ability to move quickly, according to The Times. The Rams can choose later this month to convert their lease in St. Louis to year-to-year.

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