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Wednesday, Oct 4, 2023

Rams Plans for Woodland Hills Move Forward

This article has been revised from the original version.

The Los Angeles Rams have taken a relatively small but important step closer to declaring Woodland Hills as the organization’s home turf.

The team has filed paperwork to convert a Warner Center property into a temporary practice facility, complete with fields and interior facilities. Although the current proposal is expressly temporary, it also formally telegraphs team owner Stan Kroenke’s long-term goals for the handful of contiguous properties he acquired in the neighborhood last year.

“This is a first step, and it’s a first step we need to take as we work on a longer-term facility and long-term plans,” a Rams spokeswoman, who wished not to be identified, said. “Our long-term goal is to build a facility that will include team headquarters and a practice facility at Woodland Hills.”

The move confirmed speculation that Kroenke was planning a more consolidated and permanent home for the Rams after spending $650 million to purchase the three properties.

Returning to Los Angeles

Since returning to Los Angeles in 2016, the team holds in-season practices and off-season team activities at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks; its business office is in Agoura Hills. Meanwhile, the team has held its training camp at the University of California Irvine, and now, of course, shares SoFi Stadium in Inglewood with the Los Angeles Chargers for home games.

“We’ve taken a very regional approach to Los Angeles and Southern California,” the team spokeswoman said, “and we’ve been fortunate to have a presence everywhere from the Conejo Valley to L.A. city down to Inglewood and Orange County with Irvine.”

The new interim practice facility, which the team hopes to bring online by January, would relocate the Thousand Oaks portion of the organization’s operations. It’s where the Rams would hold weekly practices during football season and voluntary spring activities — different from the public and fan-engaging training camp, which by all accounts is slated to remain in Irvine for the foreseeable future.

“During the season, the peak occupancy of the facility will be roughly 200 to 220 people, and then it will vary throughout the year depending on the time of year and the nature of the practices going on,” explained Brad Rosenheim, a consultant on the proposal, during a presentation to the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization in June. “In today’s world, much of football is done in the classroom and in meeting settings. They’re learning a lot about their positions, their playbooks and the opposing teams. A lot of that takes place indoors in classroom settings.”

Rosenheim’s response anticipated public concern about whether the addition would create traffic and noise issues for Woodland Hills.

The interim setup will include two outdoor practice fields and temporary buildings near Erwin Street and Canoga Avenue – the northeast corner of the former Anthem Inc. building complex. There won’t be bleachers or stands, and there won’t be any floodlights installed at the fields. Additionally, per the NFL’s collective-bargaining agreement, field practice is limited to two hours a day.

“This is their office,” Rosenheim — who is also executive director of the Warner Center Association — said. “This is where they go to work every day. This is not for entertainment purposes — that takes place Sundays, someplace else.”

Community engagement

Still, team representatives conceded there was probably room for community engagement at whatever ultimately materializes at the site. The Rams have held NFL events in Malibu, Hollywood Hills and Tarzana for select partners and season ticket holders. During the presentation to the homeowners’ organization in June, Rams officials fielded questions on whether local organizations could host events there or whether schools might be able to utilize the space.

“I cannot tell you how excited we are to be in our new home and to roll up our sleeves for community engagement in the San Fernando Valley,” said Maria Camacho, director of government affairs for the Rams who, incidentally, is from Encino. “Hopefully there will be something great we can share and obviously work alongside our community partners in doing something cool, but right now, we’re focusing on (the use by the Rams).”

What’s next?

Outside of utilizing some subterranean space, the 13-story Anthem building will remain untouched by this project, as will the adjacent, barely occupied, Promenade shopping mall. Both were bought by the Kroenke Organization, which also acquired the adjacent shopping center The Village in December. A company representative told the Business Journal that The Village would remain as it currently is, a thriving open-air shopping center.

Prior to selling the Promenade, former owner Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield had secured environmental review and permitting for a vast redevelopment of the 34-acre site, plans for which at the time included a 15,000-seat sports arena. In the bigger picture, the city’s Warner Center 2035 Specific Plan aims to make Woodland Hills the “downtown” of the San Fernando Valley, complete with a plethora of large apartment buildings.

Now, it seems the Rams are intent on being a part of that downtown. And while there’s been no explicit talk of bringing the business operations from Agoura Hills onto the same complex as the practice facility, it would be a logical move for an organization that is now publicly hailing Woodland Hills as its forever home — a home that the team essentially owns and is 20 miles closer to SoFi.

“Right now, the most expeditious thing is to focus on this interim practice facility and getting our team operations to Woodland Hills,” the Rams spokeswoman said.

Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk is a managing editor at the Los Angeles Business Journal and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. She previously covered real estate for the Los Angeles Business Journal. She has done work with publications including The Orange County Register, The Real Deal and doityourself.com.

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