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Price tag for Rams and Chargers' stadium nears $3 billion, prompting NFL rule change

The cost of Stan Kroenke's stadium in Inglewood is climbing, and his fellow NFL owners made an adjustment for that Tuesday at the league's annual meetings.

Owners approved raising the debt waiver to $4.963 billion for the first phase of the project, which includes the football stadium where the Rams and Chargers will play, the neighboring 6,000-seat performance venue, the 200,000 square feet of office space for NFL Media, the parking lots surrounding the stadium, and the cost of the entire 300-acre parcel.

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The stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2020, was originally projected to cost $2.6 billion. That is now closer to $3 billion, those familiar with the pricing say, although the Rams have not provided a specific number.

The NFL's most expensive stadiums to this point are MetLife, shared by the New York Giants and Jets, and Mercedes-Benz, new home of the Atlanta Falcons, both with price tags of $1.6 billion. The Raiders' new stadium in Las Vegas is projected to cost $1.8 billion.

Kevin Demoff, Rams chief operating officer and vice president of football operations, said the project will feature three or four phases, with the first being completed by 2020 and early 2021. That will be followed by more office and retail space, as well as residential development.

"While the stadium costs have risen since our initial presentations, the building remains 100% privately financed by Stan Kroenke and highlights his unprecedented investment in both the community of Inglewood and the NFL as a whole," Demoff said.

"This investment represents the first phase of his commitment to building a transformative sports and entertainment district at Hollywood Park that will bring Super Bowls, the Olympics and thousands of jobs to Inglewood."

QB carousel

Football is a game of deception and misdirection, especially in the weeks leading up to the NFL draft when every team is trying to throw the rest of the world off the scent.

So it's hard to know how much stock to put in Cleveland coach Hue Jackson raving about Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield when there's a strong indication USC's Sam Darnold is currently the favorite to go No. 1 overall to the Browns in next month's draft.

But rave Jackson did Tuesday, extolling Mayfield's virtues at the NFL coaches breakfast, a regular feature of the league meetings.

A contingent from the Browns traveled to Oklahoma on Thursday to privately work out Mayfield, who is in the elite tier of quarterbacks along with Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen and Wyoming's Josh Allen.

"I will share this with you," Jackson said. "When we walked into the building, [Mayfield] made this sound. He just kind of came out of nowhere. He kind of went, 'Hee hee!' And all the players in the building started going, 'Hee hee!' And here they go. It's the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen. That shows you something about what he means to young men and how he leads them. And that's who Baker Mayfield is."

Jackson, whose team has the Nos. 1 and 4 picks, has said he envisions veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor starting for at least a season. However, Mayfield told reporters at the scouting combine that he doesn't intend to sit as a rookie.

"No doubt, he doesn't," Jackson said. "Obviously, I've had these conversations with all these guys. And they know. I mean, we laid it out pretty clearly, what the expectations would be and what we're trying to accomplish here.

"To a man, they all get it. They understand that this opportunity, as bad as they want it, could be a little overwhelming, and that there's things that they need to learn on an everyday basis before they're ready to take it on."

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Redefining the grab

The NFL has completed the catch.

By a 32-0 vote, NFL owners approved a simplification of the standards for a legal catch, among the more controversial playing rules in recent years.

The league spent the past two years deconstructing what constitutes a reception, then rebuilding that rule from scratch with the input of several current and former coaches and players.

Under the new rule, a receiver must:

1. Control the ball.

2. Get two feet down (or another body part).

3. Make a football move, whether taking another step or reaching the ball toward the goal line or yard marker. Such a football move would not be required if the catch were made in the end zone.

Gone are the "surviving the ground" and "slight movement of the ball" stipulations that wiped out so many apparent receptions in past seasons.

"We want to take these great catches and make them into catches," Al Riveron, the NFL's head of officiating, said a day before the balloting.

Also on Tuesday, the league made permanent the rule that changes spotting touchbacks at the 25-yard line, authorized that a designated member of the league's officiating department in New York can decide to eject a player remotely for a flagrant nonfootball act when a foul for that act is called on the fieldand banned the act of players lowering their heads to make contact, now a foul anywhere on the field.

Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer

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