July 14, 2016 - From the July, 2016 issue

The Rams (and Inglewood) Are Back: COO Kevin Demoff Details Impressive Plans for Stadium Complex

In just a few weeks, the Los Angeles Rams will play the first regular season professional football game in Los Angeles in 22 years. The excitement can be felt throughout the city, as Rams have consciously spread their offices and facilities throughout the region, from Agoura Hills to Irvine. In June, COO and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Kevin Demoff addressed the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Governors meeting, sharing many of the details of the sports and entertainment complex that will be constructed now through 2019 in Inglewood. Demoff revealed impressive architectural plans and discussed the Rams' commitment to supporting the region with investment and philanthropy. TPR presents an edited transcript of his comments.


Kevin Demoff

"Stan Kroenke’s vision for a sports and entertainment district represents a merger of sports and real estate at a level never before seen—even on a global scale..We believe this will be a transformative project on the Westside." - Kevin Demoff

"The stadium itself will be the largest in the NFL, with 70,240 seats. An 11-acre party plaza underneath the stadium, and a 6,000-seat theater attached to it, are aimed at promoting what we think will be both a vibrant and growing entertainment district in Inglewood." - Kevin Demoff

The return of the Rams to Los Angeles is a great opportunity for economic development in the city, the county, and the region. And Stan Kroenke’s vision for a sports and entertainment district represents a merger of sports and real estate at a level never before seen—even on a global scale. But what people should realize is that this is not just about a stadium, and it’s not just about a football team. We believe this will be a transformative project on the Westside.

So what is it?

At 298 acres, the campus is the largest entitled real estate project in Southern California. In Los Angeles terms, it’s roughly nine times the size of L.A. Live. The concept is the Grove, L.A. Live, and Playa Vista put together.

It will rise on the old Hollywood Park site—a site that’s well known to LA sports fans. It will become the NFL’s flagship campus and its foothold in Los Angeles, as well as the heart of a new sports and entertainment district.

There will be just under a million square feet of retail, roughly 800,000 square feet of office space within our stadium district, and eventually, 1,500 residential units in the panhandle of Hollywood Park.

The stadium itself will be the largest in the NFL, with 70,240 seats. An 11-acre party plaza underneath the stadium, and a 6,000-seat theater attached to it, are aimed at promoting what we think will be both a vibrant and growing entertainment district in Inglewood.

Throughout this process, we were determined to make the stadium a uniquely Los Angeles building. That meant the architecture had to fit in. We didn’t want this to feel like it had dropped and could have been anywhere else. We challenged our architects at HKS to make this the greatest building in the world. What came out of that process is a design that is truly unique to Los Angeles. The sleek modern lines are reminiscent of some of the museums downtown—the Broad, Disney Hall, along with the Getty Center.

The stadium won’t rise up like you might expect. It’s not a monstrosity that will dominate the landscape. It’s very low-slung; neighbors will be able to see right past it. In fact, because of our proximity to LAX, we had to build it 70-100 feet into the ground, so it’s only about 150 feet above sea level.

One of the amazing things, though, which we really sat and wrestled with, was the roof. There was nothing worse we could think of than building a dome here in Los Angeles. So what we came up with is the world’s first ever open-air, horizontal sculpted roof. It’s got open stands and concourses, transparent ETFE, large video screens, and free-standing concessions—for an immersive experience. Our building has no sides. When you look at the building, it’s covered with a clear, ETEF roof. It is covered, but there are no walls on the side, which means the breezes will flow through. When you’re sitting there, it’ll feel like it’s open air. On a warm day, our building should be three to four degrees cooler than if you were sitting outside. But you’ll be completely covered from the elements. This allows us to host Final Fours and Super Bowls and all those great events that we think that will make Los Angeles a terrific destination—a building that hasn’t been here for those kinds of world-class events.

We want to preserve this amazing 360-degree view of Los Angeles and the entire county. So if you’re sitting on the eastern upper deck, you’ll be able to look out toward San Pedro, Palos Verdes, and the water. If you’re sitting on the west side looking east, on a clear day you’ll have views out to Downtown and the Hollywood sign and beyond. There are large openings on the sides that are basically standing-room platforms for people to be able to engage with the entire Southern California atmosphere.

The inside of the building is completely digital. There’s no fixed signage, so we’ll be able to program whatever people want to see. Our goal is to be able to watch the games from out of town on one side of the board while you watch the in-game access and what’s happening on the field simultaneously. It’s the world’s first two-sided video board.

We have 12,675 parking spaces onsite, and another 20,000 within a mile. Through working with LA Metro, we hope to bring people in through the new Metro stop in Inglewood that will open right about the same time as the stadium in 2019, and through the Metro stop just to the south on the 105 Freeway.

One of the great things about having a building with no walls is the ingress and egress. You should be able to walk right in. You can walk in on the main event level. We think this is the world’s first indoor/outdoor building. Champions Plaza, will have a 6,000 seat theater and an 11-acre party space, which will allow us to have community events that you want to host during the year—all 365 days. It’s like a park within a stadium.

One of the most interesting things about returning to Los Angeles—I’ve been gone for 12 years—is the new culinary approach that the city has taken, the steps it’s taken on that scene. We want to replicate that within our building. We want to change the hospitality and culinary experience of stadiums, and really give you a taste of Los Angeles—a taste of walking around and eating your way through the city. In one of our food halls at the south end of our building, we’ll have a wood-burning pizza oven, and up above it, a sushi stand concept. It’ll be a place for people to gather, eat, and enjoy the food experience, rather than walking off and standing in line to get a beer or a hot dog. It’s truly changing the way—that is, making it much more Los Angeles.

People forget that the Rams were LA’s first team. The team moved here in 1946. People say, the good news about the Coliseum is that it’s nostalgic; the bad thing is that you can buy the exact same seat in 2016 that you could buy in 1946 for the Rams’ first game.

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We announced our initiative in 2015. I opened the paper the next day and saw the article from Bill Plaschke talking about the Rams being LA’s first love, and really the first entertainment and showtime team that existed. That’s the goal we want to have today.

The value we have is that we’re an expansion team with roots. We get to come back, we get to be fresh, and we get to embrace the new Los Angeles. When you talk about the long history of a rich fan base, our biggest goal is to connect with a new fan base. There has not been a football team in Los Angeles in 22 years. Our biggest challenge is to take those 22 years, the generations of fans who grew up without a team, and make them NFL fans once again by giving them that live experience.

When we talk about connecting with the community, I think that’s the first way you do it. We’re building our first playground in Los Angeles. Every June, we will build a playground from scratch for a school that has no playground. This year, it is at Woodward Elementary in Inglewood. We’re really starting to build that emotional connection with fans, and fostering grassroots energy.

Overall, because of Stan Kroenke’s vision and because of the support of the community in Inglewood, we were able to navigate the complex process of getting a stadium built. One of the craziest things is that from the day we announced our initiative process in Inglewood to the day it was approved was essentially seven weeks. In just seven weeks, we got an 80,000-seat stadium—an 8.5-million-square-foot project—entitled though working with the city. When you look at this project, the entire campus will be a multi-billion investment in Inglewood, Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles is ready for the Rams to return too. There’s a diversified economy. A progressive community of leaders from tech, music, industry, and fashion, make this economy resilient. California is now the sixth largest economy. This is a different Los Angeles than the one the Rams left.

One of our main tenets about building community is that we’re going to plant roots throughout the region. We are going to host workouts in Orange County, we’re up in the San Fernando Valley for our temporary practice facility, and we’re looking for 50-60 acres for our permanent training facility and another retail development. It’s an exciting time for a team to walk back in and become a part of Los Angeles.

With this stadium, we have a chance to become part of LA’s cultural fabric, and to use this for good outside of the Rams. Last month, we were awarded Super Bowl LV in 2021, the first Super Bowl to come back to Los Angeles in 30 years. It could be the largest sports tourism event since the 1984 Olympics. My former boss, Casey Wasserman, was thrilled the day we were selected because we were bringing a $2.5-billion Olympic venue for him to include as part of his bid. We’re also going to bid on the Final Four and the World Cup, both of which can bring significant tourism dollars to Southern California.

There’s also the international platform. We’re playing in London this year against the New York Giants; next year, we are considering a game in Mexico City; in 2018, we’re exploring playing the first regular season game in China. When we look at that international outreach, we view being four miles east of LAX as a huge positive. We want to be one of the first things people see when they land in Los Angeles. The future of the Rams is intertwined with the future of Los Angeles.

Within five miles of our site, we have over a million people. When we look at the South Bay and what’s happening in Culver City, Westchester, and Inglewood, we think this will be a powerful driver to bring those communities together and provide another hub outside of Downtown.

We’re excited about our future. Most of all, it starts with football. Tomorrow we have our final practice for the off-season, we’ll start training in July, and two months from now we’re going to host the Cowboys on ESPN for the first football game back in Los Angeles in 22 years. We have been thrilled with the response from people about our coming back. 56,000 people have put their hundred-dollar deposits down to get season tickets and we expect to sell 70,000 season tickets.

Audience Q&A: Obviously there’s tremendous potential here for job creation in both the short-term and long-term. I know there are a lot of variables, but can you share with us some of the general job creation numbers that you’re able to project, especially with regard to the construction components of the project?

We’re just beginning to work—we’re just finalizing the selection of the contractor. Within the scope of 3 million square feet to build—$2.5-billion worth of construction—there’s a heavy emphasis on local contracting and minority development as part of our initiative process. Looking at the entire campus—office space, retail—when it comes together, we’re going to be talking about jobs likely in the tens of thousands for construction and probably thousands on a daily basis. On event dates alone, the team will hire thousands of game day employees just to operate the stadium. These will be meaningful jobs for members of the community. One of the understated things about bringing a team back to Los Angeles is that we have a payroll, as an organization, of more than $200 million that’s coming back into this economy. It’s a significant boost, too—what people are going to spend locally, and bringing events such as the Super Bowl back, are going to be tremendous drivers for our economy.

 

 

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© 2021 The Planning Report | David Abel, Publisher, ABL, Inc.