With L.A. Rams, The NFL Gets Its Hollywood Ending

The Will Smith film, "Concussion," was still in theaters, generating a great deal of awareness for a serious situation but not generating a lot of intake at the box office, when the NFL got the Hollywood ending it really wanted.

Even as "Concussion" — based on the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who helped lead the fight to bring the issue of head trauma in the NFL to the public-at-large — was pulling in barely $33 million over the first four weeks of its release, CBS was selling-out its Super Bowl 50 ads at upward of $5 million for 30 seconds and the NFL was averaging more than 36 million TV viewers for its playoff games.

The league this month also unveiled plans to bring the Rams back to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, relocating the franchise from St. Louis to L.A., a reversal of the situation when the team moved from L.A. to St. Louis following the 1994 season (and the Raiders moved back to Oakland).

The move, which could see a second team (the San Diego Chargers) relocate to Los Angeles, was approved after Rams majority owner Stan Kroenke detailed plans for a new $2.6 billion, 80-000-seat stadium in Inglewood that would be built to open for the 2019 season as part of a larger 298-acre entertainment complex.

Los Angeles, the No. 2 TV market in the U.S. behind New York, was the site for the Special Olympics World Games this past summer, hosting 7,000 athletes, 3,000 coaches, 30,000 volunteers and an estimated 500,000 spectators — with organizers calling it the "single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games."

That event was, in turn, a catalyst for Los Angeles to receive approval from the U.S. Olympic Committee to represent the U.S. as the bid city for the 2024 Summer Games.

Should Los Angeles get the official bid in late 2017 from the International Olympic Committee (Paris, Rome and Budapest also are in contention), the Rams’ new stadium likely would host events, further supporting the NFL's decision to return to the City of Angels.

According to industry analysts, a naming rights deal to the stadium and aligned properties, which currently goes by the working title of the Los Angeles Entertainment Center, could break records by topping $750 million and even approaching $1 billion for a two-team stadium over the course of 30 years.

Even without a naming rights deal, the new stadium would see sky-high revenue from companies that want to become founding partners, as well as via the sale of private suites and other ventures.

Not including any naming rights pacts, annual sponsorship deals with companies could hit $40.4 million if one team plays in the new venue, $74.3 million for a two-team stadium, according to Eric Smallwood, managing partner for Apex Marketing Group, St. Clair, Mich., a leading naming rights and sponsorship marketing firm.

Adding in income from suites and other activations for a stadium with two teams, the figure could top $239 million annually, according to Smallwood.

Though it would not host a Super Bowl in its first season of operation (Super Bowl LIV in 2020), it certainly would head the list to host Super Bowl LV in 2021 or Super Bowl LVI in 2022. 

Among the L.A.-based companies that could seek a naming rights deal might be Farmers Insurance, which in 2011 agreed to a pact for 30-year naming rights valued at $700 million for a proposed NFL stadium to be built in Los Angeles. In March 2015, the backers of that stadium shut down efforts when political, environmental, financial and other logistics became too overwhelming to resolve.

Farmers Insurance had already received $6 million in media exposure for a stadium deal in which they had minimal investment, according to Smallwood.

"It was a difficult decision for ownership, but we also realized that this was our opportunity," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during a media conference when the Rams’ relocation move was unveiled.

"This is more than a stadium, it's a complex ...  [It will have a lasting impact] not just on NFL stadiums and complexes but sports complexes around the world," said Goodell.

Somewhere in Hollywood, a movie may be in the works.

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