Inglewood Residents Lash out at Rams New Stadium: 'This Is Gentrification'

The Los Angeles Rams have attracted flack on social media, after users pointed out that SoFi Stadium, their shiny new home, was built in one of Los Angeles' most deprived areas.

Located on the site that hosted the Hollywood Park Racetrack, the SoFi Stadium will be the home to the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers from this season and will be the first venue to host a professional franchise in Inglewood since the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings left The Forum for Staples Center at the turn of the century.

But support for the new 70,000-capacity venue, which can be expanded up to 100,000, is far from universal. When a clip showing an artificial lake had been built in front of SoFi Stadium was posted on Twitter on Thursday, users and local residents swiftly pointed out the disparity between the state-of-the art facility and the surrounding areas.

According to data gathered in the 2018 census, an estimated 18.5 percent of Inglewood residents were living in poverty. The most recent census figures showed the annual household income average over the previous four years stood just above $50,300, while the annual per capita income over a 12-month period was just over $23,400.

By comparison, in the same year the real median household income across the U.S. was just north of $63,000 and just over of $73,500 in California, while the national average in terms of per capita income stood and $44,500.

Some users highlighted the local government had seemingly no qualms to offer tax breaks to the stadium's developers, but could not bring itself to invest money on fixing potholes, sweep sidewalks of fund public education. Others suggested the area's ongoing homelessness problem and the lack of adequate funding for the local schools were a stark reminded of the different reality facing Inglewood away from the shiny new stadium.

"Crazy how they [the local government] got money for this but can't help struggling schools literally a couple of blocks away," one user wrote.

Others, meanwhile, warned the construction project had already sped up the process of gentrification in the area, suggesting it could speed up even further once the Rams and the Chargers both relocate to Inglewood in the upcoming season.

"Please know that this is gentrification," a user wrote as she retweeted a clip of the lake in front of SoFi Stadium.

"You cannot ignore this. Many people are being evicted and are becoming homeless due to this stadium. Families who have lived in Inglewood for generations will become homeless."

Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the developers have financed the construction costs, which began at $2.6 billion but have since ballooned to almost $5 billion, due to a host of different factors including slower-than-expected personal seat license sales, but in 2015 the Associated Press reported that both parties were looking to recoup approximately $100 million in reimbursements or tax breaks in the first five years after completion.

While upon announcing the project the developers claimed Inglewood could generate over $1 billion in taxes over 25 years thanks to SoFi Stadium, the report from AP indicated they were only willing to promise the first $25 million a year to the city, before being subsequently reimbursed for any "eligible costs"—which could include a host of infrastructure work, such as roads, sidewalks and landscaping.

Significantly, only the surplus available after the reimbursements would find its way into the city's coffers.

At a cost of almost $5 billion, SoFi Stadium will be the most expensive sports venue ever built and in May this year The Athletic reported NFL owners had approved a further $500 million in funding for the venue, on top of a $400 million loan the Rams had borrowed from the league's stadium lending program.

The Rams also requested repayments for the latter loan to be spread over a 30-year span, as opposed to the traditional 15-year period.

SoFi Stadium was scheduled to be inaugurated on July 25 with a Taylor Swift concert, which was subsequently postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rams and the Chargers aren't the only professional franchises to be moving to Inglewood, with the Los Angeles Clippers also planning to relocate to the city, which is located 12 miles southwest of Los Angeles.

In July last year, the Clippers unveiled plans for a new state-of-the-art arena, which franchise chairman Steve Ballmer hopes will be the "best home in all of sports."

Aside from the 18,500-seat arena, the plans include a complete renovation of a 26-acre area located on West Century Boulevard between South Prairie Avenue and South Yukon Avenue in Inglewood, California.

The Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Center will include the Clippers' corporate headquarters, a team training facility, a sports medicine clinic and community courts.

SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles Rams
Construction at SoFi Stadium continues amidst the COVID-19 pandemic on March 31 in Inglewood, California. Harry How/Getty