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How Inglewood Became California’s Premier Sports and Entertainment City – Thanks To Mayor James Butts

While many towns in Southern California and around the country are grappling with the economic and health effects of the COVID19 epidemic — laying off hundreds of workers, cutting municipal services to citizens, and postponing the completion of long-promised projects – Inglewood stands apart. The Inglewood economic rebirth is not only maintaining, but gaining speed, as it manages the pandemic’s ramifications and ensures the safety of its inhabitants and employees.

Super Bowl XVI, the world’s most renowned one-day athletic event, will be held in the new $5 billion SoFi Stadium in February 2022, although it will be only one of several international sporting events to be held in Inglewood. Wrestlemania, the FIFA Soccer World Cup, and the opening ceremony of the 2028 Summer Olympics are among the others.

Even in these difficult times, Inglewood has transformed from a South Bay community known for its economic and crime problems to an economic powerhouse and development paradise that has drawn three major sports franchises – the Rams, Clippers, and Chargers. The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles’ headquarters, as well as the L.A. Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra program and its Frank Gehry-designed headquarters, have all moved in. Inglewood is the most astounding narrative of transformation and victory in Southern California.

Compare Inglewood to its southern and western neighbors. Alternatively, you may compare it to nearby Santa Monica.

The coronavirus outbreak has caused the beach city’s two main income sources, hotel bed taxes and sales taxes, to dry up. At the same time, it ignored years of warnings about its massive pension deficit, and is now paying the price with substantially decreased revenues. Santa Monica now expects a $226 million shortage by June 2021, prompting the termination or buyout of 373 full-time employees.

Inglewood, on the other hand, has sufficient reserves to get through this fiscal year without furloughs or layoffs. By terminating the non-funded lifelong retiree medical program and replacing it with an employee health savings plan, it was able to drastically lower its unfunded obligations. With a COVID-19 vaccination on the way, it’s likely that staff and service cuts may be limited or nonexistent in this South Bay community. While the variations between the two cities make direct comparisons difficult, they do share one significant feature: Butts, James T.

Butts, who previously served as the 15-year Police Chief of Santa Monica, has led Inglewood for the past decade, and the city has prospered under his guidance.

Inglewood’s unemployment rate had dropped from 17.5 percent to 4.7 percent before Covid-19, and job creation continues a primary emphasis, with a 35 percent local hiring goal for Inglewood residents for the 50,000 construction jobs planned over the next seven years. This implies that locals will be first in line for employment earning prevailing rates, which range from $60 to $90 per hour in some cases. Hundreds of individuals, including Iron Workers union parolees, have already obtained new jobs as a result of their work building SoFi Stadium.

Furthermore, since 2012, property values had increased by more than 200 percent (finally allowing Inglewood residents to build and pass on generational wealth).

How did he pull it off?

Potholes, pruning, rock, and rap are all things that come to mind while thinking about potholes.

Butts continues, “It started with re-opening the Forum.” “I knew that if I could persuade the Forum to reopen, we’d be a more appealing location for other important corporations.”

To reopen the doors to the city’s most iconic monument, Inglewood provided $18 million in State Redevelopment monies.

The question, and the risk, was whether a big arena could survive without a resident sports club, which the Forum lost when the Lakers relocated to Staples Center.

The response was a resounding “yes.” The renovated Forum hosted 50 paid concerts in its first year back in operation, including performances by the Eagles and the Wu-Tang Clan — nearly twice as many as the second-place finisher in the Southern California area, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, and more than twice as many as downtown L.A.’s Staples Center.

Butts recalled, “That placed us back on the sports-and-entertainment map.”

Inglewood was paving streets, cutting trees, and putting miles of fiber optic cable underground at the same time, laying the framework for negotiations with big-league teams, millionaire owners, and developers.

“It doesn’t seem very thrilling,” Butts added, “but when people ask how I accomplished it, I tell them by paving the streets.” “First and foremost, it’s what my constituents wanted me to do when I campaigned for mayor. So, shortly after I took office, we conducted a street assessment, categorized the roads from worst to best, and began paving them logically and systematically. This was critical for our residents. But it was also necessary to make us more business-friendly.

Butts’ administration has repaved more street lanes, miles of roadway, and repaired linear feet of sidewalk than any other in the city’s history. Century Boulevard, Florence, and Imperial Highway were all restored after a 20-year wait.

When Stan Kroenke, the millionaire developer and Rams owner, drove down newly paved La Brea Boulevard to City Hall to notify the mayor that he wanted to move the Rams to Inglewood, opportunity beckoned once more.

Inglewood Today

Today, the renaissance’s major elements are either finished or nearly finished.

The “Fabulous Forum” is now part of Ballmer’s sports and entertainment footprint in Inglewood, while Madison Square Garden has returned to New York.

The Rams and Chargers are in the middle of their first NFL season at their new home, SoFi Stadium, which is the world’s most beautiful and technologically advanced sports facility.

The Los Angeles Clippers are getting closer to breaking ground on what will be the world’s most prestigious professional basketball stadium, with a practice facility, 18,000-seat NBA arena, open space, and shops taking shape on property that has been unused for more than three decades.

The NFL Network skyscraper is nearing completion, and the 298-acre Hollywood Park Development is a visible landmark for travelers flying into LAX.

The issues offered by COVID-19 in terms of quality of life cannot be overlooked. People who have lost their livelihoods, as well as loved ones, have suffered greatly.

Nonetheless, the city works to establish a safer and more secure environment in terms of public safety.

Inglewood has had the lowest crime rates in its history for the ninth year in a row. The year 2019 retains the record for the lowest level of crime in the city’s history.

Finally, the Inglewood Airport Area Chamber of Commerce is nearing the completion of a refurbishment that will honor the organization’s role as a crucial partner in the city’s economic recovery.

“Let me be clear: I didn’t do anything by myself. Butts remarked, “I have a brilliant team of City Council Members (Eloy Morales, Alex Padilla, George Dotson, and Ralph Franklin) as well as our City Manager Artie Fields and devoted Department Heads who have worked tirelessly to make this happen.” “Our staff is overwhelmingly made up of people who live in Inglewood, have ties to the city’s history, and are highly involved in this community that we all adore.”