Inglewood, Calif., Pins Hopes for Commercial Revival on N.F.L.'s Rams
This year, there is fresh hope to revive Inglewood, which is planning to
welcome the Rams football team back to the Los Angeles area after 20 years in St. Louis. The
Rams' owner, E. Stanley Kroenke, is building an 80,000-seat stadium, at a cost likely to exceed $2 billion, to accommodate the team, and an entertainment complex is being built nearby as part of a continuing project called
The development will include about 900,000 square feet of retail space, a hotel, 2,500 residential units and 25 acres of public parks, all on the site of the former Hollywood Park Racetrack. Plans include almost 800,000 square feet of office space.
"This development adds a dimension to the city that it has never had before," said Inglewood's mayor, James T. Butts Jr.
Inglewood, a city of 110,000, is just 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles and a short drive from its upscale western environs like Beverly Hills. "Inglewood is strategically located in the L.A. basin," said Bob Healey, a senior vice president at the commercial real estate firm CBRE who specializes in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. Mr. Healey added that commercial values in the areas surrounding the stadium site had already risen.
For years, an NFL team has been considered the ultimate prize for any municipality in the Greater Los Angeles area. The city of L.A. tried for years; so did the city of Carson. But in the end, it went an unlikely candidate: the rather maligned city of Inglewood.
The unlikely coup is the latest victory in James T. Butts' remarkable five years as mayor of the town Tupac Shakur immortalized as "always up to no good." When the muscle-bound ex-cop was elected in 2011, Inglewood was spiraling toward collapse. Its previous mayor of 10 years had just pled guilty to public corruption. Its state senator, Rod Wright, resigned after being convicted for voter fraud. Its school district was broke and about to be taken over by the state. Crime remained stubbornly high. And the city was on the verge of bankruptcy.
"On average, we burned more than $50,000 a day more than we were taking in," Butts says. "At that rate, we would have been bankrupt in about six months. We wouldn't have made payroll."
Butts, a longtime Inglewood police officer, had served for 15 years as Santa Monica's chief of police. "Then I became mayor and I found out it wasn't like running a police department, because the councilpeople, they don't know instinctively what's best," Butts says. "Well, they don't instinctively fall in line with someone with a vision. Because there had never been a vision put forth before."
NFL owners poised to award Los Angeles a Super Bowl next week in Charlotte
When the Rams and Raiders bolted Los Angeles 22 years ago, it left L.A. with more than just a glaring hole relative to a National Football League team presence.
It also meant the second-biggest market in the country was no longer allowed to host the Super Bowl.
So for the last two decades, the City of Angels has merely been an observer rather than a participant to the single biggest sports event in the world.
That is about to change, big time.
In fact, by this time next week the NFL is expected to officially bring Los Angeles back into the fold by awarding L.A. either Super Bowl LIV (2020) or LV (2021) when owners gather in Charlotte to decide the hosting responsibilities for Super Bowls LIII, LIV and LV.
The game changer, or course, was the Rams being approved last January to relocate from St. Louis to Los Angeles, where they will eventually play in the $2.4 billion stadium and entertainment hub being built by owner Stan Kroenke in Inglewood.
There will be plenty of good things to talk about April 23 when Mayor James T. Butts delivers his fifth State of the City Address at the Forum, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Working from a theme of "If you don't believe me, just watch," Butts is expected to address the major transformation the city has seen in the last four years.
"We have right-sized our work force, tripled our reserves from $11 million to $34 million, brought in MSG to reopen the Forum, adopted the Champion's Revitalization initiative keeping the timetable for stadium construction on track and engaged in an ambitious infrastructure renewal program," Butts said while previewing his speech for a reporter.
"These decisions enabled the city of Inglewood to avoid insolvency, balance its budget and add financial stability to the city's bank account," Butts added.
Plans for stadium give Inglewood residents a sense of pride (2014)
Mayor James Butts says construction will begin on a new football stadium - and the surrounding mixed-use development of retail stores, offices, homes and condominiums - by December with or without a commitment from the St. Louis Rams or any other National Football League team.
Inglewood is headed for a new community branding with a development that will bring the prestige of The Grove or Hollywood and Highland in the city, the mayor said.
"In the next 30 days, we'll start the permitting process for the Inglewood site," Butts said.
A year from now, the city should know if the Rams or another NFL team is ready to commit to the planned stadium.
Talks of a new stadium as part of the redevelopment of the former Hollywood Park race track have residents talking like a dark cloud is finally lifting off the city and the stars are aligning in their favor.
Why Inglewood is a pretty great place to eat now, even before the Rams start playing (2016)
Inglewood will soon be home to the returning Los Angeles Rams, but football fans aren't the only ones who should take note of this South L.A. city. With a diverse array of affordable and family-owned restaurants serving many hard-to-find specialties, it's a pretty great neighborhood already. You can find Somali, Jamaican, Malaysian-Burmese, Cuban, Mexican, Southern and soul food restaurants, attesting to the crossroads at which the city has long been situated, both culturally and geographically.
The 108-year-old city of Inglewood - its vintage vibe extant in mid-century marquees and sidewalk payphones - is located in the physical heart of the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, between the 10, the 405, the 110 and the 105 freeways. Yet Angelenos' knowledge of the food options in Inglewood is often limited to Randy's Donuts, its supersize fried brown ring the unofficial gateway to the city. But there's much more than fritters and doughnuts in Inglewood.
When it opens in three years, the 300-acre Rams stadium, at the site of the former Hollywood Park Racetrack, will alter the actual landscape of the nine miles the city encompasses. The nearly $2-billion stadium and its grounds will include four parks, a hotel, an office tower, a concert venue and numerous restaurants and shops. Stadium developers have already approached Connie Cossio, owner of Inglewood favorite Coni'Seafood - the Mexican seafood restaurant is on
Jonathan Gold's 101 Best Restaurants list - to open an outpost on stadium grounds.
L.A. County and Orange County breweries win big at the World Beer Cup awards (2016)
Los Angeles County and Orange County breweries took home top honors last week at the World Beer Cup awards in Philadelphia. Beachwood Brewing in Long Beach was awarded Champion Large Brewpub and Noble Ale Works in Anaheim earned the title of Champion Small Brewery. Several other L.A.-area breweries also earned medals in the competition.
Held every two years and organized by the Brewers Assn., the World Beer Cup awards bronze, silver and gold medals
in nearly 100 categories covering every style of beer, from light lagers to barrel-aged stouts. The beers and judges come from breweries around the world, and this year's competition included more than 6,000 beers from nearly 2,000 breweries.
The Los Angeles County craft beer scene was honored with a total of seven medals and Champion Brewer honors, and Orange County breweries earned 11 awards and Champion Brewer honors as well.
Beachwood Brewing led the Los Angeles area contingent with three medals: a gold medal for Mocha Machine coffee stout, a silver medal for Kilgore stout, and a bronze medal for Utter Love sweet stout.
Three Weavers Brewing in Inglewood earned a gold medal in the Imperial red ale category for Blood Junkie, and Eagle Rock Brewery took gold for its Belgian-style Flanders ale Yearling. The West Covina location of the B.J.'s Restaurant and Brewery chain also scored a gold medal in the robust porter category with P.M. Porter. And Smog City Brewing in Torrance won a silver medal in the American-style amber/red ale category with a silver medal for its Sabre-Toothed Squirrel.