Ed Roski Jr. spent $24 million on 2 failed NFL stadium projects, but billionaire is past that now – San Bernardino Sun

Money spent doesn’t always result in dividends. Ed Roski Jr. knows that only too well.

Roski in 2003 laid out $6 million on Coliseum renovation plans he was hopeful would bring to him and the stadium an NFL team.

“But we couldn’t get the Coliseum commission to give us a lease,” said Roski’s right-hand man, John Semcken.


Some years later, Roski put another $18 million toward what he wanted to be an NFL stadium in the City of Industry to house a team. Those plans were dashed when the NFL in January 2016 chose to approve Stan Kroenke’s SoFi Stadium in Inglewood for his Rams and the Chargers.

“We spent $18 million and got nothing,” Semcken said.

That’s $24 million down the drain for the minority owner of the Lakers and L.A. Kings.

By that time, the writing was on the wall — it was either going to be a stadium built by Kroenke, or by the Raiders and Chargers in the city of Carson. A committee of six NFL owners recommended Carson, but that was overruled by the rest and ultimately they voted 30-2 for Kroenke and SoFi.

“We were never formally notified, but we knew that the die was cast and we were out of it,” Semcken said.

Kroenke, owner of the Rams, eventually spent $5.5 billion to build SoFi and on Sunday, Feb. 13 the cutting-edge arena will play host to the Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.

Roski, Chairman of the Board of Majestic Realty in Industry and Semcken — his senior Vice President — licked their wounds for a while. It seems like it was harder on Semcken.

“Guys like Ed, they never look back,” Semcken said of the local billionaire, whose current net worth is listed at $6.1 billion; he was No. 168 on the Forbes 400 in 2021. “He didn’t look back the first time we didn’t get it and he never looked back the second time. I, at the time, was very bitter. And it wasn’t even my money, right?

“But he just said, ‘Hey, John, we did our best and we go on and we do something else.’ That’s literally what he did.”

The stadium

Roski and Semcken shook off the Coliseum detour and planned to build what would have been an $800 million, 75,000-seat stadium on 600 acres of land owned by Roski near the 57 and 60 freeway interchange.

The effort tapped  the same architect who drew up the plans for the proposed renovation of the Coliseum.

“We designed like an NFL experience around it,” Semcken said. “What was very unique about the building was that the pedestrians and the automobiles were all on different levels.”

Artist’s renderings of “Los Angeles NFL Stadium at Grand Crossing,” some complete with fireworks and spotlights, made the project look like a glitzy football wonderland, with adjacent parking, retail centers and gathering spots.

“When you were going back and forth to the parking lot, the cars went underneath you so cars entering and leaving the stadium didn’t interact with people; you would be able to get in and get out quickly. We thought it was an ingenious design.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

How it went down

Semcken said that around early 2008 he and Roski went to New York to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

“We sat in his office with Neil Glat, who was his No. 2 guy at the time,” Semcken said; Glat is now a senior advisor for the New York Jets. “And we said, ‘Well, we have a site. It’s actually in center of the region. It’s where the 60 and the 57 meet and 25 miles north of Newport Beach and the big mall there, it’s 23 miles east of L.A. and it’s accessible from the 10, the 210, the 60, the 57. And there’s a train stop there.’

“So I said, ‘It’s actually a very good site. We have 600 acres, we have plenty of room.’ And he (Goodell) said to us, ‘If you can get a stadium approved, we’ll get you a team.’ ” (Efforts to reach Goodell to comment for this article were unsuccessful.)

Back home, the effort gathered steam.

Ed Roski Jr. once planned on building a NFL stadium in the San Gabriel Valley, in a section of the City of Industry. View is looking south with the junction of N. Grand Ave., bottom left corner, and the 57 freeway across the top on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Roski and Industry are a perfect fit. His Majestic Realty Co. bills itself as the largest, privately held developer and owner of master-planned business parks U.S.

The city is aptly named; it’s almost all industry. In fact, the city boasts more such business that it has residents.

The landscape is framed by industrial parks, tech centers, business complexes, warehouses. More than 3,000 businesses employ nearly 70,000 people within its 12 square miles.

To be precise, that’s 92% industrial and 8% commercial. There are some homes, too, but not that many.  In 2019, the U.S. Census put the resident population at 373, ranking it among the least populated cities in the state.

Artist’s rendering of proposed Los Angeles Stadium that would have been developed by local billionaire Ed Roski Jr.(File photo by Mike Mullen)

One would think that would mean fewer people to say “not in my back yard” over a mammoth development. But the lawsuits filed actually were generated in neighboring cities, including Diamond Bar and Walnut. Suits were eventually settled.

Industry’s City Council in February 2009 approved the environmental plan and Roski survived the legal challenges over environmental issues and wooed support in the state Legislature.

Then the proposed Farmers Field in downtown L.A. — behind what was then called Staples Center — entered the mix, helmed by the Anschutz Entertainment Group.

“They started competing with us and we fought for a while because we knew that the stadium downtown could never happen,” Semcken said.

Tim Leiweke, then an executive with AEG, along with sports agent Casey Wasserman, announced the Farmers Field endeavor in April 2010, which included an upgrade of the L.A. Convention Center. (Leiweke and Wasserman did not return calls for comment for this report.)

Buzz about a stadium in Chavez Ravine, next to Dodger Stadium, also got going, but didn’t get loud enough to grown beyond the concept stage.

That July, Roski told the L.A. Daily News, “We are just focusing on our deal. We think we have the location that services all of Southern California.”

Artist’s rendering of a proposed NFL football stadium, named Farmers Field, aimed for Downtown Los Angeles. The stadium was not built. (AP Photo/AEG, File)

Roski also wanted part ownership of any team that would inhabit his stadium. That might have been his undoing.

“Most stadiums in the NFL are given to them by a city, right?” Semcken said. “There wasn’t a city that was going to give them this land; it was our land. So we wanted to have an ownership in the team. We could buy an ownership in the team and then they could pay for the land.

“Or we could figure out a way to make the value of what we were getting in the team equal to a portion of the land. But we weren’t going to give them the stadium. We’re in the real estate business. But at the end of the day, I really think it was that Mr. Kroenke wanted to build his own stadium in Inglewood.”

Kroenke has a net worth of $10.7 billion and is No. 70 on the Forbes 400.

Semcken said the aforementioned legal challenge, as well as the Farmers Field project delayed his and Roski’s progress, but he couldn’t say whether that had any effect on the eventual outcome.

Meanwhile, despite a series of approvals from L.A. leaders and a significant amount of public attention, the key figures in the Farmers deal went their separate ways and AEG announced in 2015 it was no longer pursuing the park.

Kroenke took a ride

Once it became apparent that Kroenke wanted to move the Rams back to Southern California, Roski and Semcken tried to convince him to put the once-and-future L.A. teamto in their proposed stadium in Industry. During the process, Kroenke even came for a visit. Semcken recalls it was in either 2011 or 2012.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke(Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

“Stan Kroenke came in — and he’s not from L.A.,” Semcken said. “He wanted to have one on the West side, where everybody thinks you need to have it. We tried to convince them that having it in the middle in the San Gabriel Valley — which is three miles from San Bernardino County, 12 miles from Riverside County, eight miles from Orange County — would be the perfect place for it.”

Smecken suggested that Kroenke’s trip to Industry was a wrong-day, wrong-time situation.

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