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Super Bowl-Bound L.A. Rams Are Building the NFL's Most Expensive Stadium, Without Public Money

There's no reason for taxpayers to finance athletic colosseums, and the Rams are providing a model for the next era of new stadiums.

Image of Sport/NewscomImage of Sport/NewscomOn Sunday evening, the Los Angeles Rams will battle the New England Patriots for National Football League supremacy—and they'll do in inside a brand new stadium in downtown Atlanta that cost Georgia taxpayers about $600 million to build (plus another $24 million for a useless pedestrian bridge nearby).

But back in Los Angeles, the Rams are demonstrating that it's possible to build a sporting cathedral without soaking the public with nine-figures of subsidies, taxpayer-funded bonds, or other corporate handouts.

The Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park figures to be the crown jewel of the NFL when it opens in 2020. It's already slated to host a Super Bowl, probably the first of many, in February 2022—and it will host part of the 2026 World Cup along with the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2028 Summer Olympics. More than 70,000 spectators will fit inside the ultra-modern glass-enclosed stadium surrounded by a complex that will include a concert hall, shopping center, office buildings, condos, a luxury hotel and a 25 acre park. The entire footprint of the site is three times larger than Disneyland, and with estimated construction costs nearing $5 billion, it's likely to be the most expensive stadium in American history.

Most remarkable of all, it's being privately funded.

Stan Kroenke, the Rams' owner, is financing the project with more than $1.6 billion of his own money and a massive loan from the NFL's other owners. He plans to profit off not just ticket sales and concessions at Rams games, but by renting all that office and retail space. He'll have another major tenant as well: the NFL's Los Angeles Chargers. They will pay just $1 per year in rent, but having two teams share the stadium doubles the number of home games on the schedule—and, presumably, the number of fans spending their money at Kroenke's complex (but make your own joke about the Chargers' lack of fans).

Kevin Demoff, the Rams' chief operating officer, tells The Washington Post that the new stadium in Inglewood "will serve as a great model" for the next era of stadium projects. Roger Noll, a Stanford University economist and longtime critic of public spending on stadiums, tells the Post that the Rams new facility is "a really good deal" when compared to any other stadium built in America during the past three decades.

It's not perfect, of course. Inglewood is allowing Kroenke to pocket some of the sales taxes from purchases made in the stadium complex, a kickback that's worth an estimated $180 million to pay for infrastructure and an internal bus transit system. Also, as Noll points out in the Post story, it's possible that other uses for the nearly 300-acre site might have been more productive. But one of the great things about the stadium being privately funded is that those opportunity costs are borne by Kroenke, his fellow investors, and the NFL—instead of by taxpayers.

Contrast that to what's happening right now at the site of last year's Super Bowl: U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. After hitting taxpayers with a $500 million tab to build a new home for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, public officials are now shelling out another $3 million to pay for upgrades to a stadium that's only two years old.

Minnesota's stadium is also a nice case study in how incentives change when something is paid for by the public or privately. In Los Angeles, Kroenke is willing to share his new football palace with a crosstown rival because it doesn't make much sense to pay billions for a football stadium that will host no more than 12 games (eight in the regular season, two in the preseason, and a maximum of two in the playoffs) per year. Two teams means twice as many opportunities to earn money.

But in Minnesota, the Vikings owners refused to let a new Major League Soccer franchise rent their stadium—going so far as threatening a lawsuit against the city-run stadium authority that put up the $500 million in public money for U.S. Bank Stadium if a soccer team was allowed to share it. Instead, Minnesota taxpayers ended up chipping in to build a new soccer stadium, too.

Is the L.A. Rams' new stadium a sign that team owners have finally decided to stop fleecing taxpayers? Probably not. After all, Kroenke is just a few years removed from trying to arm-twist St. Louis into spending $477 million to build a new stadium for the Rams—he moved the team to Los Angeles when St. Louis (wisely) refused to do so.

But the new Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park will be a shining example for other cities to use as a counterargument when team owners plead poverty and beg for a handout.

Photo Credit: Image of Sport/Newscom

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  • Sevo||

    "Chase Center is a multi-purpose arena under construction in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco. The building will become the new home venue for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
    [...]
    On April 19, 2014, the Warriors abandoned plans for the pier site and purchased a 12-acre site owned by Salesforce.com at the Mission Bay neighborhood for an undisclosed amount. The arena project will be financed privately."
    Wiki - Chase Center
    Kerr and Curry can stuff their politics up their asses, but the owner not only paid to build the thing, but bought the land outright.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    "After hitting taxpayers with a $500 million tab to build a new home for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, public officials are now shelling out another $3 million to pay for upgrades to a stadium that's only two years old."

    I would love to read a detailed explanation of that cluster-f*ck. The people who came up with and passed the original design must have screwed up massively. Was it poorly thought out requirements? Was it an architect with an ego who ignored the customer? Did bad regulations mandate some flaw that now has to be remediated?

    Anybody know?

  • RabbitHead||

    A lot of it is for curtains to control light/glare for the NCAA final four. There are glass walls and roof and this causes lighting irregularities. Stupid design

    And new field turf.

    And it's 6 million not 3. Fuckers

  • Mongo||

    It was also touted as a world-class music venue and turned out to be a massive fail in that respect. Bad acoustics, from what concert-goers say.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Jerry Jones knows a thing or two about lighting irregularities. Who builds a giant glass wall without taking the Sun into account?

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I've said it before, but I think it bears repeating; were I the mayor of a city a major sports franchise was blackmailing I would VERY publicly offer to build the new stadium..in return for a substantial ownership stake in the team. Mr. Team owner wants to keep the team to himself? He gets to pay for his new stadium. The League in question doesn't want municipal ownership? They get to explain to the fans.

  • Agammamon||

    Then the team would just tell you to kick rocks.

    See, the problem is the team owner doesn't care where the team plays - but the city wants the team to stay. Because 'world-class city' or some bullshit. The owners aren't glad-handing because they don't have any money. They're not *begging* for help. They're demanding tribute. And there's a dozen other city governments that will welcome the team on the owner's terms.

  • Sal Paradise||

    I don't believe the NFL allows any public ownership in teams. Green Bay, the only publicly owned team, was grandfathered in. Probably so scenarios like yours don't happen.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Oh, I know it wouldn't succeed, I'd do it to expose the swine for what they are.

  • jagjr||

    I'd be interested in your sources on the 'grandfathering' of Green Bay. I don't recall any rules to that effect, or any formal 'grandfather' clause for GB.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    I'd be interested in your sources on the 'grandfathering' of Green Bay.

    Or you could use google. It's on their wikipedia page for cryin' out loud.

  • Still Curmudgeoned (Nunya)||

    That was the car you choose? I'm sure the wife loves picking bugs out of her hair on the way to visit mom.

  • DenverJ||

    $50k and it doesnt even have a cup holder.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Yes it does -- wife in the passenger seat. If she can keep bugs out of her hair, she can double down on keeping the drink clean.

  • SIV||

    Shoulda bought a Nomad

  • Jerryskids||

    You realize of course that if this stadium complex proves to be profitable, it will be used as an argument by other teams (like the LA Chargers) for why it makes good economic sense for cities to fund these deals. "Look, the problem isn't that the cities are funding billion dollar stadiums they shouldn't be funding, the problem is that the cities aren't funding 5 billion dollar stadium complexes that they should be funding!"

  • esteve7||

    I like Greg Esterbrook's idea. Any broadcast out of a publicly financed stadium can not be copywrited. See how fast those NFL leeches come up with the money for their own stadium.

    'Redevelopment' is not a legitimate function of government. The entire concept of central planning needs to die

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    It would be fun to be a lazy individualism-enforcing dictator and do that kind of stuff. But I don't think there is such a job.

  • shortviking||

    This could make me a rams fan

  • BigT||

    Join the 330 million who will be Rams fans tomorrow.

  • Sevo||

    Anybody but Brady!

  • RabbitHead||

    Kraft privately funded Gillette stadium, by the way.

  • Agammamon||

    It's not perfect, of course. Inglewood is allowing Kroenke to pocket some of the sales taxes from purchases made in the stadium complex, a kickback that's worth an estimated $180 million to pay for infrastructure and an internal bus transit system.

    Here's another way to look at it - he's getting a tax break to cover legitimate operating expenses.

  • Kevin Smith||

    Since sales taxes are charged to the consumer its not really a tax break, its definitely a kickback, but it does come out of revenue that wouldn't exist without the new stadium so its not taking money out of other pockets

  • Agammamon||

    Some of the tax comes out of the consumer. Some comes out of the pocket of the seller since they will need to lower their prices somewhat compared to what they could be in absence of the sales tax.

  • Agammamon||

    Some of it even comes out of the pockets of the employees - who are being paid less than they could be.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Some comes out of the pocket of the seller

    WRONG.

    Anything the consumer pays to get any good or service that doesn't end up in the vendor's pocket, is a tax on the consumer. Pretending otherwise only helps the looters.

    -jcr

  • Bubba Jones||

    Not exactly. It depends upon the supply/demand curve.

    If I am willing to pay $10 for a beer (!) but not $11, then the price of a beer isn't a function of the sales tax and the sales tax comes strictly out of the profits of the seller. He's getting $10 whether or not there's a tax. No more, no less.

    As the shape of the curve changes, the distribution of the tax burden will redistribute between the buyer and the seller. An 80 cent tax might reduce the pre-tax transaction price by 40 cents, for example.

    But I'm not sure how this observation helps the looters.

  • Overt||

    The point though is that they are taking that 180 Million and paying for stuff that likely the city would have otherwise paid for- buses and infrastructure. I would happily give this tax break to ANY business that was willing to do the same. Rather than give it to the government who will build the infrastructure and run those services at a loss, while piling up pension liabilities, the city essentially outsources it to the business- and you know they will make sure that the costs of such infrastructure never exceed what they are getting from sales taxes.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Important #TrumpRussia analysis from RawStory.

    'All this plays into Putin's hands': Nuclear weapons expert explains how Trump just gave a huge 'gift' to Russia

    I'm probably the biggest Robert Mueller fan here, but he really needs to hurry up and remove Drumpf from office. The fate of all life on the planet depends on it.

    #ItsMuellerTime

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Even more news about Russia undermining our sovereignty.

    Russia's propaganda machine discovers 2020 Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard

    Experts who track websites and social media linked to Russia have seen stirrings of a possible campaign of support for Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard.

    This isn't complicated, people. If Russia supports an American candidate, it means that candidate is good for Russia and therefore bad for America. Of course TulsiBros (yes, they're a thing) will promote her as a genuinely anti-war and anti-imperialism voice. But if Russia is propping up the anti-war candidates, we patriotic Americans should look for alternatives who are stronger on national security and support a more muscular foreign policy.

  • DenverJ||

    I think we should end the Russian menace once and for all. They're weak right now- we should strike while the irony is hot.

  • Sal Paradise||

    Well, it worked in Dr Strangelove.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    I don't necessarily want the next Democratic President to launch nukes at Russia. However some form of military action must be on the table. Russia's hacking of our 2016 election was an attack on the very foundations of our democracy. It must be understood in the context of other attacks like Pearl Harbor and 9 / 11. And it would have been foolish and cowardly to completely rule out a military response to those events.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Not necessarily? Jfc. Under what circumstances would you be ok with that? If Putin helps to re-elect Trump? Cause you know that's happening.

  • perlchpr||

    I am making sure the Draft Board has your name at the top of their file for the Winter Invasion of Russia.

  • Longtobefree||

    Really? Citing twitter and NBC news?
    Do you have any actual facts?

  • DenverJ||

    You do know that OBL is a parody account, don't you?

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Is the L.A. Rams' new stadium a sign that team owners have finally decided to stop fleecing taxpayers?"

    No, no, no, no- a thousand times "No"! Team owners are not fleecing taxpayers- politicians are. Team owners can ask until the cows come home, but the only way they can get their hands on any taxpayer money is with the agreement and approval of elected officials.

    Put the blame where it belongs.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    If team owners are just following incentives put in place by politicians, then don't stop your analysis halfway through. The politicians are just following incentives put in place by coercive government with virtually unlimited police powers.

    Government is the evil. Politicians are just its messengers, and cronies are just its agents.

  • DenverJ||

    And the voters are the co-dependent enablers.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Government is the evil."

    That idea was my intent, as poorly as I managed to state it.

    "And the voters are the co-dependent enablers."

    True for many voters but not all of them. Lots of voters oppose the election winner. As well, there is never any guarantee the election winner will do (or not) as they promised when campaigning.

    Maybe a good reason for government power to be limited, no?

  • DenverJ||

    Limit government power? That's just crazy talk. Also, I find it fascinating that many of those screaming loudest about how Trump=Hitler are so willing to give government (the same government led by Bad Orange Man) ever more power.

  • Longtobefree||

    Who cares? Just NFL football, not anything interesting.

  • Ray McKigney||

    Wear blackface in school 40 years ago? Inexcusable!

    Advocate infanticide today? Whatever.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    What's funny is how many of my conservative friends are jumping on this and calling on him to resign.

  • Ray McKigney||

    It's like the Hatfields and the McCoys. Revenge is the only principle that matters.

  • Tony||

    An infant is by definition someone who has been born. Nobody advocates for infanticide, you ridiculous bible thumper.

  • Ray McKigney||

    "If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother," Northam said during an interview on WTOP radio.

  • Echospinner||

    He is a pediatric neurologist. He did not specify however I suspect he is thinking about something like anencephaly. About half of those babies will be born alive and none of them will survive more than a few hours or days. The condition results in no developed brain tissue except for a few rudimentary brain stem functions. In a case like that exactly what he described is what would happen.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Unless it runs for congress in Brooklyn.

    -jcr

  • Mickey Rat||

    Richard Dawkins is "no one"?

  • John C. Randolph||

    You haven't been paying attention, or else you're just lying. So hard to tell with you sometimes.

    -jcr

  • BigT||

    Now for something far more ridiculous:
    .
    Colonization of America caused the Little Ice Age!!
    .
    America colonisation 'cooled Earth's climate'
    .
    By Jonathan Amos
    BBC Science Correspondent

    Colonisation of the Americas at the end of the 15th Century killed so many people, it disturbed Earth's climate.

    That's the conclusion of scientists from University College London, UK.

    The team says the disruption that followed European settlement led to a huge swathe of abandoned agricultural land being reclaimed by fast-growing trees and other vegetation.

    This pulled down enough carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere to eventually chill the planet.

    It's a cooling period often referred to in the history books as the "Little Ice Age" - a time when winters in Europe would see the Thames in London regularly freeze over.
    .
    https://tinyurl.com/yd3sw38a

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Are these clowns aware that wind-power is what got the colonizers to the New World?

  • Sevo||

    I'd also like to see a comparison of acreage 'lost' from ag during that and the recent acreage 'lost' from ag as a result of the green revolution.
    Given the absolute numbers involved, I'm guessing the recent 'loss' make the colonial 'loss' a rounding error.

  • vek||

    So the takeaway there is that civilized peoples should wipe out 90% of the population in places occupied by savages? And it would save mother earth!?!?!?

    I don't buy the argument that CO2 has the amount of effect the IPCC morons think it does... Because their own evidence contradicts their theories. But it probably does play some part.

    Honestly, it would be kind of cool to forest/reforest some places in the world. The midwest used to be largely forested, and could be again. How cool would it be to actually have trees in the middle of the country? There's a LOT of land there that's basically just stupid grass. I would expect even half assed seeding in the right spots would return a lot of that land to being moderately dense, and ultimately maybe properly dense, forests.

    Turning large swaths of the midwest into even rotating tree farms would be kind of cool, and probably mitigate climate change to some small degree. As long as it is a profitable or desirable thing to do without the climate change angle, it would be cool.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

  • JeremyR||

    That kinda ignores the money he made in St. Louis with the Rams.

    And that he made his money by marrying a Walmart heir, then selling/leasing land to Walmart

  • JeremyR||

    And let me also add, it's something that is probably only feasible (maybe) in LA. Despite being from Missouri (and named after two baseball Cardinals players) he chose not to build a stadium in St. Louis, but in LA

  • jagjr||

    excellent commentary. an object lesson for municipalities across the nation. let me point out, however, that the Chargers have many, many fans - they are all simply in San Diego, not in LA. sure, they spent their debut AFL season in LA - nearly 5 decades ago - but have called San Diego their home from then up until the current debacle. considering that LA has never had a pro team in any league except the NFL leave town, but has had EVERY NFL team that's ever played there leave at some point, we'll just have to see what happens.

  • Peddler931||

    This is the one market that the NFL cannot blackmail by threatening to move to Los Angeles.

  • Minadin||

    Kroenke is still a lying weasel wearing a ferret for a hairpiece.

  • Minadin||

    Kroenke is still a lying weasel wearing a ferret for a hairpiece.

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