It's widely believed that California voters will not approve of public money going into stadiums for privately owned teams. But are the politicians in Inglewood pulling a back door switch on the taxpayers?
When I asked Inglewood mayor James Butts Jr. if the Rams are coming to Inglewood he answered, "If I knew that I'd be in Vegas right now." I didn't expect to hear that. If that's all he can offer then how can he and city council approve the building of an 80 thousand seat "NFL spec" stadium in their city. I would hope he knows much more than he is letting on. If an "NFL spec" stadium, "the most expensive stadium in the country" is good for the city--- even if an NFL team doesn't come to LA, then let the public in on it.
We cannot hide from the truth, as much as NFL teams feel like community property to many fans, that only happens in Green Bay. They are mostly owned by very wealthy people looking to make themselves wealthier. If it is true that no public money will be used in the project then why should the public care? The private investors are the only ones at risk. But will taxpayers eventually be on the hook in the form of a reimbursement?
Butts told me that there is some type of "reimbursement" plan the city has. With more transparency we would understand more. But during my interview with Butts on STUDIO 11, he made it sound like the Inglewood taxpayers will eventually pay for part of the development in Inglewood in the form of a reimbursement. The taxpayers will "reimburse" the millionaires and/or billionaire, funding the construction of a stadium and the land around it. The taxpayers have a right to decide if they like a plan that reimburses the millionaires who will only enrich themselves once a team moves here. Some analysts think a Los Angeles NFL Franchise will be worth more than $2 billion.
So I'm not sure I understand what the mayor told me but I think I heard this: the wealthy owners can build their stadium, as a caveat, and since Inglewood doesn't have the money right now to help out with the "public spaces" in and around the stadium, the taxpayers will pay the wealthy owners back once they start rolling in the dough from all the tax money they are going to get from the development of their "NFL spec" stadium. (And I plan on buying a new car with my tax return too, until it comes back at way less than I was hoping).
I cover the NFL for a living. I have a weekly NFL postgame show on FOX 11 on Sundays following games. I would love to see the NFL return to LA. I love football. I think it would be exciting and fun. More than that, I would love the people of Los Angeles, Inglewood, Carson, wherever a new stadium might go, to get jobs, start businesses, benefit from tax revenues, all things that would come from an NFL stadium and team coming back to LA. It's time the NFL and Inglewood be more transparent, so the people of Inglewood and Southern California know what they are really getting.
If the mayor of Inglewood knows something more then he owes it to the taxpayers of Inglewood and all the Rams fans who showed up to Inglewood city council wearing their jerseys, and SoCal NFL fans who are getting their hopes up, to know what ‘s really in play.
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