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Speculation grows about Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the land

NEW YORK -- St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke's recent purchase of about 60 acres of land in Inglewood doesn't mean he plans to return the team to the Los Angeles market.

But it doesn't mean that isn't in the works, either.

"I assume he's not going to build a 20,000-square-foot private home on it," another NFL owner told the Orange County Register. "Stan is a very smart businessman. Stay tuned."

Inglewood's mayor said Friday he has discussed the possibility of relocation with three NFL teams since 2011 but declined to say whether he had spoken to Kroenke about his plans.

"The reality is, it is the best site in Southern California if you're going to build a stadium," Inglewood mayor James Butts said. "It is centrally located between four freeways. It's less than a mile from L.A. International Airport and it has ocean climates. We're very supportive of the idea of bringing football to Inglewood."

The Rams issued a statement Friday on behalf of Kroenke Organizations confirming reports he bought the land located between the Forum and Hollywood Park. What Kroenke intends to do with it remains unclear.

"As a private company, we don't typically discuss our plans for commercial or residential investments," the statement read. "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 of our properties."

In keeping with league policy regarding the Los Angeles market, Kroenke informed the NFL of his purchase -- a possible sign of the Rams' return to Southern California. Any relocation effort would have to run through the NFL, per league policy established in June 2012.

While acknowledging he was aware of Kroenke's maneuverings, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said "there are no plans, to my knowledge, of a stadium development. ... Instead of overreacting, we should make sure we do what's necessary to continue to support the team locally."

The Rams -- who left the L.A. market, along with the Raiders, after the 1994 season -- have been seeking extensive renovations of the Edward Jones Dome. Their lease gives them the option to leave after next season if certain standards haven't been met.

Kroenke could use the Inglewood property as leverage to get a better deal in St. Louis. He could develop the land for something other than a stadium. Or he could sell it. While other owners spoke to the media after Goodell's state-of-the-league address, Kroenke was not among them.

Moving the team would require approval from three-fourths of the league's 32 owners, as well as a substantial relocation fee that some industry experts peg at $200 million.

"I think it'd be pretty hard to get 24 votes (without the fee)," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "That's what, the second-most lucrative market in America? In the top three? That will be a very high fee for whomever does it."

The NFL has been trying, off and on, to re-establish a foothold in the L.A. market since the Rams and Raiders left. Two existing sites -- one in downtown Los Angeles, the other in Industry -- are considered to be "shovel-ready."

"We definitely want a team in L.A.," said Kraft, a former member of the league's now-defunct L.A. Stadium Working Group. "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."

The Chargers' Dean Spanos is among the owners keeping tabs on the L.A. situation. The Chargers, long considered candidates to relocate to Los Angeles, continue to focus their stadium efforts on San Diego. But Spanos acknowledged that the arrival of a team in the L.A. market would have a "significant impact" on his club's well-being.

"A significant, negative impact," Spanos said. "A huge percentage of our business comes from Orange County and L.A."

Inglewood has been a part of NFL discussions since the 1990s, when the Raiders contemplated a move there, but Butts said "the potential is better now than it's ever been" for a team to play in Inglewood.

That said, Butts said he didn't believe any move involving the Rams would be imminent, and said that no public money would be used to finance the construction of any NFL stadium. Butts also suggested that Kroenke would need to purchase additional land in order to make a stadium feasible.

"If you wanted a tailgating experience, you would," Butts said. "Sixty acres is substantial, but if you wanted a flat-land tailgating experience, then you would need 30 or 40 more acres."

That land would, most likely, have to come out of the planned "Hollywood Park Tomorrow" retail site, which Butts said is scheduled to break ground Thursday on the site of the former race track. Kroenke currently has an operating agreement with the Forum to use part of his 60 acres as a parking lot.

Orange County Register staff writer Rich Hammond contributed to this article.

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com

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