The NFL Doesn’t Own Inglewood

Hollywood Park Stadium is a trick play

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Illustration by Franky Olivares.

Tech and entertainment giants are displacing low-income families all over California, and Inglewood is the latest city to face the potential death of its culture. Its executioner is the National Football League (NFL).

In 2016, the Rams and the Chargers announced plans to build the Hollywood Park Stadium in Inglewood, a city in Los Angeles County. The venue is expected to open in 2020, but the local housing market is already seeing exponential rent hikes. Sports teams make millions while residents scramble to make rent.

As a result of the development initiated by NFL executives, a wealthier demographic is moving in, eager to experience the city as an up-and-coming hotspot. In turn, the existing Inglewood community is being delivered an ultimatum to pay up or leave. 

In Inglewood’s case, gentrification is especially hurtful. The 1960s saw white families leave in droves after families of color began moving in. Classist policies such as mortgage discrimination then stifled the  economy.

Before the damage of past racism can heal, gentrification rubs salt in the wounds.

Now, money is flowing into the city due to the stadium, but the cost of entertainment and living in Hollywood Park is wildly out of reach for locals. The cheapest tickets will be about $150 per game, while the median household income in Inglewood is about $43,000. Prices for the roughly 2,500 residential units haven’t been announced yet, but none of it is designated as low-income housing.

Building expensive sports infrastructure will not benefit Inglewood’s community. The consequences of this kind of development are well-known yet often ignored.

The Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the site of this year’s Super Bowl, promised to benefit the nearby English Avenue and Vine City neighborhoods, two of the most underresourced communities in the  southeast.

Despite the Falcons’ promise, the development brought few  improvements.

Arthur Blank, Falcons owner, built housing specifically for Atlanta police officers to move in. Development for the sake of outsiders does nothing to help local communities. Stadiums are agents of gentrification, not community  saviors.

The stadium in Inglewood is following this trend. Residents have already experienced a 37.3 percent rent increase between 2016, when the stadium was announced, and  2018.

 Local government has made no effort to instate temporary rent control despite calls for housing reform. The housing justice organization, Uplift Inglewood, petitioned for rent regulations in 2018, but was unable to gather enough signatures. 

The money stadiums generate for franchises should not be the metric of success. Developers must consider the communities they’re displacing, and the culture they’re whitewashing. Inglewood’s community was there before the stadium and deserves to be  respected.

If the construction of the stadium continues without resistance, Inglewood will be fed to the commercialization machine.

Don’t allow the spectacle of sports to cover up the injustices committed by these franchises. Stand with the people in Inglewood who are fighting back. Demand legislation such as rent control that benefits the current residents.