Business & Economy

A costly delay: Rams, Chargers stadium opening delayed to 2020

In this file photo, a three-dimensional model of the new Los Angeles Rams stadium is on display during the groundbreaking for the team's new stadium and entertainment district in Inglewood, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. The stadium opening has been pushed back a year because of construction delays resulting from heavy rainfall last winter.
In this file photo, a three-dimensional model of the new Los Angeles Rams stadium is on display during the groundbreaking for the team's new stadium and entertainment district in Inglewood, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. The stadium opening has been pushed back a year because of construction delays resulting from heavy rainfall last winter.
Richard Vogel/AP

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Call it the longest rain delay in NFL history. The new shared stadium of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers will be delayed a year because of the torrential downpours last winter.

The 70,000-seat stadium was scheduled to open in 2019 along with a 300-acre entertainment district on the site of the former Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood. Unfortunately, the relentlessly wet weather forced major construction delays while digging the stadium bowl between January and March, according to a statement from the Rams posted online Thursday.

The stadium is now expected to open for the 2020 season.

"This new target gives us flexibility to accommodate any additional delays that may arise while still delivering an unparalleled experience upon opening," the team said.

A yearlong delay for the Rams and Chargers to move into their new home in Inglewood will likely cost the teams tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Through luxury boxes, personal seat licenses, and state of the art signage, the new $2.6 billion stadium ­– which will arguably be the most lavish sports venue in the world when it is finished – will generate much more money for team owners than their interim homes will.

"Certainly there will be a revenue hit and added expenses," said Los Angeles Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff. "But this is not a decision about economics. This is a decision about quality and fan experience."

The developer of the project suggested Thursday the project may recoup some costs because of a less hurried construction process.

"If you move it out, you’re working a few months longer. However, you should not have quite the acceleration you that need to have happened with a tighter schedule," said Legends Project Development Senior Vice President and Managing Director Dale Koger. "So it’s probably premature to say whether this does or doesn’t change the bottom line one way or the other."

The delay will be costlier to the Rams than the Chargers, because the Chargers are merely a tenant in a stadium that Rams owner Stan Kroenke is financing. He reportedly took out a $1 billion loan from JP Morgan Chase for construction.

"Whenever you delay any construction project, it means you have more financing, meaning you have to borrow money for longer periods of time, and that’s expensive," said Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College.

"I don’t think that’s something we would comment on," said Demoff, when asked about additional financing costs.

Zimbalist said the good news is that Kroenke is among the richest owners in sports – worth $7.5 billion, according to Forbes – so he won’t be sweating the delay.

"I don’t think we have to worry very much about whether he’s going to go bankrupt," said Zimbalist.

The delay is also at least a temporary blow to Inglewood, which is using the stadium and its surrounding 298-acre entertainment, commercial, and residential development as the centerpiece of an effort to revitalize the city.

"We look forward to opening day in Inglewood in 2020," Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts told KPCC.