Dallas architectural titan HKS helps swing the NFL back to L.A.
The National Football League voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to let the St. Louis Rams move to Los Angeles and construct a lavish new stadium in suburban Inglewood, Calif.
The big winners that night, besides the Rams, were the Dallas-based firm HKS and native son Bryan Trubey, its director of sports and entertainment.
Trubey, 54, grew up in Oak Cliff. He graduated from Skyline High School and Texas A&M University and then got in touch with his dream. He’s a much-in-demand principal designer being sought after by sports and entertainment moguls all over the world. Not long ago, he presented directly to the ruler of Dubai.
The lanky, bespectacled Trubey has served as lead architect for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. But his firm’s signature work may be the colossal new stadium in Inglewood, which at the moment exists only in architectural drawings.
Even before the first bulldozer fires up at the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, onlookers are gushing with praise.
The Los Angeles Times describes the Rams’ future home as “the league’s biggest stadium by square feet, a low-slung, glass-roofed football palace with a projected opening in 2019 and a price tag that could approach $3 billion.”
Best of all: It requires not a penny of public money. Trubey describes it as being “possibly the largest privately financed project in the country.”
With Cowboys owner Jerry Jones leading the way, NFL owners voted 30-2 to endorse the project, which scored the equivalent of a first-round knockout. It squashed a competing proposal from the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders and designated point man, Disney CEO Bob Iger, who pushed hard for a shared project in Carson, Calif. (The league gave the Chargers a one-year deadline for deciding if they wish to share the Inglewood stadium.)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the HKS-driven proposal “is going to change not just NFL stadiums and NFL complexes, but I think sports complexes around the world. I think this is going to be one of the greatest complexes in the world.” The Rams-HKS project “is more than just a stadium,” Goodell said. “It’s a project and entertainment complex that we believe will be responsive to the kind of things we need to be successful with our fans in the Los Angeles market.”
Rams owner Stan Kroenke hired HKS years ago, a relationship that began with Kroenke and Trubey sharing a mutual friend. Trubey now oversees two projects in Australia, where HKS is renovating the Rod Laver Arena, site of the Grand Slam tennis tournament the Australian Open. Other ventures have taken him to Copenhagen, Barcelona and Dubai, where he negotiated directly with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
All of that sounds like tall cotton for an Oak Cliff kid who grew up watching the Cowboys in the Cotton Bowl and Texas Stadium.
“It’s pretty fun stuff,” Trubey says. “But we have built a huge team here from a talent standpoint. We probably have the finest creative horsepower in our industry. In our firm here, that’s really what drives all the success. We’ve got some of the most talented thinkers in the business, period.”
Trubey singled out fellow architect Mark Williams, whom Trubey says cultivated a close relationship with Kroenke. Working with the Rams’ owner as HKS “partner in charge,” Williams spearheaded a collaborative effort between the firm’s L.A. and Dallas offices. Williams described the Inglewood project to the Los Angeles Times by saying, “It’s going to be so much more than going to a football game. You’re going to be absorbed into the site, absorbed into the stadium and get a very wide bandwidth of experience. It’s the kind of memory people are going to cherish for a lifetime.”
So what makes HKS so successful? It’s far more complex than designing beautiful buildings, Trubey says. “We understand the economics and the business model behind these buildings better than anybody. That’s where real long-term sustainable value is created. When we get hired by a team, we feel how well the stadium performs is going to contribute to the value of the franchise more than any single decision they make.”
One has to look no farther than Arlington to appreciate the point. Since the creation of AT&T Stadium, Trubey says, the worth of the Dallas Cowboys franchise has skyrocketed from $820 million to more than $4 billion, making it “the most valuable franchise on the planet.”
Like AT&T Stadium, the Rams’ new home will facilitate multiple uses. Its enclosing roof — yes, even in Southern California — makes it a prime contender for college basketball’s Final Four, the College Football Playoff, the Super Bowl, mega rock concerts and a powerhouse lineup of other events. Before it opens in 2019, the Rams will play in their former home, the Los Angeles Coliseum, beginning with the 2016 football season.
Soon after the NFL made its announcement Tuesday night in Houston, Trubey flew to Minnesota, where his next stadium creation will be unveiled this summer and where he was interviewed by Sports Illustrated. Then it was back to HKS, where Friday was a well-deserved celebration day, with plenty of new projects to ponder. When you’re hot, you’re hot.
This is a YouTube video that features a detailed presentation about the Inglewood project by an HKS architect: https://youtu.be/AZn4nIVDN1U