How much does it cost to get fast-track approval for an NFL football stadium?
How about less than $2 million.
St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke spent $1.7 million to bankroll the ballot initiative for his stadium proposal in Inglewood, according to recently filed campaign finance reports. The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders had spent $534,000 and counting by the end of March in their bid for a stadium in Carson. That was the total three weeks before that city's council voted to adopt the plan.
Both projects used local ballot initiatives to skirt months of time-consuming environmental reviews that used to be standard in major development projects in California. After collecting enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, both cities gained approval from their local city councils and won full entitlements in a matter of weeks.
It gave both a decided advantage over the cities trying to keep the footloose franchises from fleeing for Los Angeles. The NFL could take relocation applications as soon as this fall.
AEG spent $27 million on a 10,000-page environmental impact report for its Farmers Field proposal in 2012, company officials estimate, and another $50 million on the now-scrapped project all told. While the Inglewood and Carson plans have many costs that aren't disclosed in campaign filings — from architects to lawyers to land deals — both saved similarly big bills because of a new state law that exempts projects proposed by ballot initiative from the environmental impact review process.
They did open up the checkbooks, though.
The Inglewood campaign — Citizens for Revitalizing the City of Champions — was funded almost entirely by the Kroenke Group, except for a $50,000 donation from his partners at Hollywood Park Land Co.
The group spent most of its money on signature-gathering, printed and online media, and consultants. There were expenditures of more than $600,000 to Century City-based ballot specialists Winner and Mandabach, and more than $500,000 to Calabasas signature-gathering firm PCI Consultants. It also furnished an office in Inglewood.
Carson carried a lighter footprint, though the $534,000 sum probably will grow when April reports are filed. Carson2Gether, which is a 50-50 joint venture of the Chargers and Raiders, spent more than $120,000 on signature-gathering with Kimball Petition Management in Thousand Oaks, $79,000 with a Sacramento law firm that specializes in initiatives, and $55,000 on a "digital campaign" firm from Kennebunk, Maine.
It also spent $1,600 to hire the Los Angeles Fife and Drum Corps, which led a parade when 15,000 signatures were delivered to Carson City Hall in March. That effort could still face a referendum, which would force a public vote, though none has yet been filed.
Both campaigns cost peanuts compared to what the teams say they would like to spend on new stadiums, either of which would be the most expensive built in the U.S..
Kroenke's Inglewood plans are for a $1.86-billion stadium they would like to start to build in December, with or without a team. The Chargers and Raiders are proposing a $1.7-billion stadium in Carson, a price tag that could drop if just one team occupies it.
St. Louis' stadium authority has spent more than $800,000 developing a plan to keep the Rams, according to a recent report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Unlike the Inglewood and Carson projects, St. Louis officials have said they are prepared to spend $400 million or more in public money on a stadium.
But that $800,000 spent so far on a plan to keep the Rams is less than half of what Kroenke has spent, just on a political campaign, to move St. Louis' team to Inglewood.
Follow Tim Logan on Twitter @bytimlogan