When a running back is “in the zone,” he is unstoppable—much like plans for the new Inglewood stadium. Despite critics, questions about safety and a petition that could have stopped the project altogether, the Inglewood stadium keeps gaining ground, moving toward the end zone.
Within days of the Inglewood City Council voting unanimously to push the project forward without a special election on Feb. 24, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor took action to reverse the decision. Arguing that there were no guarantees of local, unionized jobs at the stadium, the group began a campaign to collect signatures that would have forced a citywide vote unless their demands were met.
Shortly before the March 26 deadline for signatures the Federation reached an agreement with developers. But it wasn’t drama-free. There were reports that anti-stadium workers lied to residents about their true intentions. Many non-suspecting voters were told that their signatures would push the stadium project forward when the opposite was true. Voters who felt tricked by petitioners had to file paperwork to have their signatures removed.
“Over 9,000 voters who were tricked by paid referendum signature gatherers to sign petitions to overturn the Mayor and City Council's unanimous vote to move forward with the Stadium Initiative turned in recension cards cancelling their signatures. The Anti-Stadium group failed to submit their petition with the required signatures to the City Clerk’s Office by close of business (5:30pm) on March 26, 2015,” Mayor James Butts said in his newsletter. He thanked Inglewood voters for “coming together once again to stand against forces that attempt to deny our city its well-earned destiny.”
As it stands, 35 percent of stadium jobs will be unionized. According to the Federation’s executive secretary-treasurer Rusty Hicks, the mandate will cover all job categories at the stadium except for those related to events at the smaller 6,000-seat entertainment venue. Filling these jobs with union workers won’t be hard, according to Hicks, because 12,000 union members already live in Inglewood.
He also said the labor contract agreement simply puts into writing what stadium developers had promised all along.
The anti-stadium referendum is the latest hurdle faced by supporters. Earlier last month, another group that tried to derail the project in Inglewood failed.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge issued a report questioning the safety of the stadium, suggesting Inglewood was vulnerable to terrorist attacks because of its close proximity to LAX. The fact that Ridge was paid by AEG (a former L.A. stadium contender), and previously helped arrange financing for the Philadelphia Eagles’ stadium, also near a major airport, made his arguments suspect. One week and millions of dollars worth of plans later, AEG announced it was pulling out of the stadium race.
Like a running back whose time has come, the stars continue to align for Inglewood’s most ambitious project. Last week, Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who bought 60 acres in Inglewood to build the stadium, presented his plans and schematics at a meeting of NFL owners in Arizona. Although no teams will be allowed to relocate until after the 2015-16 season, it appears inevitable that the St. Louis Rams will make their new home in Inglewood.
And while there will always be some stadium opponents, there are also some prominent true believers as well. “That stadium is going to get built. I know that,” said Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, speaking of the Inglewood project.” I don’t know about any others, but that stadium will be built.”