Wal-Mart last month sold a vacant 60-acre parcel next to the Forum and Hollywood Park in Inglewood to a mystery buyer many believe to be St. Louis Rams owner E. Stanley Kroenke, the LA Business Journal reported tonight. An NFL team official said last week there is suddenly a lot of “chatter” around the league than a team owner may have made the purchase. Kroenke is married to the daughter of late Wal-Mart co-founder Bud Walton and has a residence in Malibu. Speculation is that there may be NFL interest in the land for a stadium that would host a Los Angeles team.
From the Business Journal:
The Inglewood mayor said he did not know who bought the land, but it had been of interest to professional football in recent months.
“My office has been contacted by no less five separate sets of parties” with regard to the property, said Mayor James Butts. “At least three of them were football team owners.”
The site sits between the Forum, which reopened a couple of weeks ago, and Hollywood Park race track, which closed in December. Hollywood Park is slated to be redeveloped into a 238-acre mixed-use community.
The Wal-Mart property was the subject of a contentious battle a decade ago when the retailer wanted to build stores there but the public voted it down. Wal-Mart held on to the property until selling it Jan. 15.
The site may not be ideal for an NFL stadium. At 60 acres, it is not overly big. Plus development plans for the former Hollywood Park racetrack call for residences near the parcel. So it's all speculation, but quite live. Later tonight the LA Times also posted a story, this was one saying sources confirm Kroenke is the buyer:
Within the last month, billionaire Stan Kroenke bought a 60-acre parking lot located between the Forum and Hollywood Park, according to individuals who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the buyer or seller.
Wal-Mart originally owned the land but sold it after failing to get public approval for a superstore. Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the Forum, had planned to buy the lot for an estimated $90 million in order to acquire more space for parking and possibly additional development. However, MSG was informed by Wal-Mart at the end of 2013 that the land had already been sold to an unnamed party. The individuals confirmed the buyer is Kroenke, a former Wal-Mart board member and husband of Ann Walton Kroenke, daughter of Wal-Mart co-founder Bud Walton. For years, Kroenke has owned a substantial amount of land in Southern California.
The Rams neither confirmed nor denied that Kroenke had purchased the land and declined to comment on the situation....
The Rams have been unable to work out a stadium deal in St. Louis, and, according to the terms of their lease, are able to move after the 2014 season....Kroenke's purchase of the L.A.-area land puts additional pressure on St. Louis to come to the bargaining table or risk losing its NFL team. However, 60 acres is probably too small to fit a stadium and the required parking.
* Friday morning update: The Rams organization confirms the land purchase, but not any plans to develop a stadium. From the LA Business Journal:
Kevin Demoff, executive vice president of football operations and chief operating officer for the St. Louis Rams, confirmed early on January 31 the purchase of the former Wal-Mart site in Inglewood. “As real estate developers, the Kroenke Organizations are involved in numerous real estate deals across the country and North America,” he wrote in an email to the Business Journal. “While we can confirm media reports that we recently purchased land in Inglewood, as a private company we don’t typically discuss our plans for commercial or residential investments. We have yet to decide what we are going to do with the property but we will look at all options, as we do with all of our properties.