INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Stan Kroenke had dreamed of turning over this particular ceremonial shovelful of dirt ever since his first pre-dawn glimpse of this corner of Inglewood several years ago.
The real estate tycoon relished the thought of filling the largest block of contiguous unused land in the Los Angeles area with a lavish, career-defining stadium for his Rams. Under a brilliant Southern California sun Thursday, the team owner officially broke ground on the project with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts at his side.
”This was so impressive,” Kroenke said, recalling his initial late-night clandestine visit to the site. ”Honestly, I couldn’t believe it existed. From my perspective, this should not exist. From our perspective at the NFL, (the situation) probably shouldn’t have existed, either. There should not have been a market like the greater Los Angeles area with no NFL team. But both of them existed, and we were very excited, so we started working.”
The groundbreaking was merely ceremonial: Work has already begun on the estimated $2.6 billion stadium and surrounding entertainment district on the former site of the Hollywood Park racetrack, next door to the famed Forum.
The huge construction site is buzzing with crews working toward the scheduled August 2019 opening. The first stadium to be built specifically for an NFL team in Los Angeles is already booked to host the Super Bowl in February 2021.
The 69-year-old Kroenke, a billionaire developer married to a Walmart heiress, clearly sees the project as a centerpiece of his legacy from a career spent building less-glamorous projects around the nation.