Rams return to LA: Economic boom or bust?

A rendering of the stadium planned to be built in Inglewood.

A rendering of the stadium planned to be built in Inglewood.

After 22 years in St. Louis, the Rams, a team with historical ties to Chapman, is moving back to Los Angeles County. The team will stake its temporary home at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for two years, as it waits for a stadium to be built.

The stadium, which will be paid for entirely with private funds and be located in Inglewood, marks the most expensive proposed stadium complex in the world, according to CNN, with an estimated $2.8 billion price tag. It is scheduled to be completed for the 2019 NFL season.

This plan shows how far the Rams’ organization has come since the 1962-67 seasons, when the team rented out the then Chapman College’s dormitories and athletic field for its summer practices. The five-year contract set the Rams back $20,000, according to Louise Booth’s book, “Fulfilling a Dream: The History of Chapman University.”

While the introduction of football organizations can help local economies, with large infrastructure comes logistical nightmares, especially in Los Angeles. In terms of financial impact, Chapman economics professor Gabriel Camera encourages thinking from an economist’s perspective.

“Economics is all about option value or opportunity cost, so the question is, ‘What would the city of Inglewood use with the land if they had not used it for a football stadium?’” Camera said.

Chris Meany, a developer from the Hollywood Park Land Co., which owns the property, told the Los Angeles Daily News that the project would create roughly 40,000 jobs from construction and ongoing operations. He also said that it would result in tens of millions of dollars in revenue, coming from various taxes.

A program from the Rams' Chapman College Scholarship Benefit Game, from when they rented out Chapman College's facilities, is on sale at Amazon.

A program from the Rams’ Chapman College Scholarship Benefit Game, from when they rented out Chapman College’s facilities, is on sale at Amazon.

Camera agrees that the project will create jobs, but he questions where the employees will come from and what kind of wages they will earn.

“A majority of the workers will be low wage,” Camera said. “Another question to ask is are they going to be employing the locals or are they going to be bringing in people from other places? I don’ know.”

Donald Booth, professor emeritus of economics at Chapman, does not worry about the type of jobs offered because he believes there will be plenty of wealthy people bringing tax money to the city.

“There will be some guys on the team making over a million dollars and what do you suppose they do with that money? They spend it on fancy cars and expensive clothing,” Booth said. “They will be buying this stuff at stores in the LA area and bring more revenue.”

Booth also believes the Rams organization could provide a resource to Chapman students.

“We have students here who are working and interning for the Angels and we have had good contact with people in big positions,” Booth said. “Maybe that will be a possibility with the Rams.”

A program from the Rams' Chapman College Scholarship Benefit Game, from when they rented out Chapman College's facilities, is on sale at Amazon.

A program from the Rams’ Chapman College Scholarship Benefit Game, from when they rented out Chapman College’s facilities, is on sale at Amazon.

Excitement for the Rams’ homecoming does not completely dissolve the many worries people have about the project.

“There are always adverse possibilities for an investment project you may have,” Camera said. “These adverse possibilities come in the form of environmental, traffic, noise and other problems.”

Booth believes these oppositions are natural, but that in a few years, people will not care so much.

a “It won’t take long until people are big fans and are cheering them on,” Booth said. “If there is any big change in your life you always find a way to criticize it and you wish it wasn’t there. (Due to their effect on traffic and infrastructure) people wish Hollywood, the Dodgers and even Chapman would disappear.”

Head Coach Bob Owens of Chapman’s football team moved to the Greater Los Angeles area his sophomore year of high school, and said he feels nothing but excitement toward the Rams’ homecoming.

“It is an extremely exciting venture to have a professional football team in Los Angeles because it is one of the great American sports markets and to be able to watch a professional team in your own backyard is a special thing,” Owens said. “You don’t realize how much you love something until it’s gone and that’s what happened with the Rams here in Los Angeles.”

Owens also praised the decision to place the team back in Inglewood.

“It will be amazing for the Rams to be located in a smaller city like Inglewood, especially after the Lakers left (Inglewood) so many years ago,” Owens said. “I am sure all of the economic and social upsides will far outweigh any complaints people can think up.”

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