2017-05-18 / Front Page

Retaining Rams remains priority one, council says

By Kyle Jorrey

Determined to keep the Los Angeles Rams in Thousand Oaks, members of the City Council have declared it their No. 1 priority for the coming fiscal year.

During their annual goal-setting meeting held May 9 at Grant Brimhall Library, council members said helping the franchise stay put beyond the two years it’s committed to practice at Cal Lutheran University is their primary focus.

“An NFL team, take away the name, is our second Amgen,” said Councilmember Andy Fox, referencing the city’s most profitable business. “(The Rams are) a $200-million operation. And what that does for our community, never mind the football, is really hard to measure in terms of the positive impact.”

It was Fox who suggested the council put the Rams at the top of its priorities list ahead of issues like improving infrastructure, addressing homelessness and revitalizing T.O. Boulevard. Since last year, city leaders have been in talks with the professional organization about building a permanent year-round training site somewhere in Thousand Oaks. The team has said it needs at least 50 acres—a tall order in the Conejo Valley.

WELCOME ARRIVAL—A view inside the Rams’ weight room at their temporary training facility at Cal Lutheran. 
ACORN FILE PHOTO WELCOME ARRIVAL—A view inside the Rams’ weight room at their temporary training facility at Cal Lutheran. ACORN FILE PHOTO “We’re well on our way on the boulevard, but the Rams is an open question,” Fox said. “They’re building a multi-billion-dollar stadium in Inglewood, and they have minimal choices where they’re going to build this (training) facility. They’re either going to go south (to Orange County) or they’re going to come north to Ventura County because the (amount) of developable land in Los Angeles is zero.”

The council member said part of his motivation for putting the team at the head of the list was to improve the city’s sales pitch.

“It’s obvious that when you go talk to these folks, for you to say, ‘Well, it is the council’s No. 2 priority,’ it’s kind of underwhelming,” he said.

Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Peña joined her colleagues in praising the Rams for so seamlessly becoming a part of the Thousand Oaks community in the year since the franchise moved from St. Louis, Mo. She said she’d recently been treated to a tour of the team’s CLU facility, where it’s signed to practice through 2018.

“I’m hearing very positive feedback (from the community). . . . Even the temporary facility employs local people, uses the local restaurants, the local caterers, the local everything. . . .” she said. “We need to do whatever it takes in order to get them to choose Thousand Oaks as their permanent home.”

Councilmember Al Adam recalled hearing from a local Papa John’s franchise about what it means when the Rams place an order.

“It’s a $3,000 day,” Adam said, also noting the revenue generated from players and coaches buying big-ticket items like automobiles and high-end fashions.

Councilmember Joel Price, who attended meetings between the Rams and the city last year, said he feels T.O. has the inside track.

“They’ve expressed how happy they are with their temporary facility. A number of coaches are here, a number of players are here, so that I think that bodes well for our discussions in the future,” he said.

Updating the council on progress made toward the goal of keeping the Rams in T.O., City Manager Andrew Powers said he’s scheduled to meet with Kevin Demoff, chief operating officer for the Rams, in June. He asked the council to try to be patient.

“It does require a willing partner, and that partner is trying to run an NFL team and trying to build a multi-billion-dollar stadium complex in Los Angeles,” the city manager said. “We’ve been balancing the need to be patient and let them work through those core priority issues. . . . Our relations continue to be really strong.”

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