CAR­SON SAYS YES TO NFL STA­DIUM

City Coun­cil votes 3-0 to ap­prove po­ten­tial new home for Charg­ers, Raiders.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Tim Lo­gan and Nathan Fenno

The Car­son City Coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved a pri­vately fi­nanced sta­dium for the San Diego Charg­ers and Oak­land Raiders on Tues­day night, barely two months af­ter the public an­nounce­ment of the $1.7-bil­lion project.

“There are two things we need in Cal­i­for­nia: rain … and foot­ball,” Car­son Mayor Al­bert Robles said af­ter the 3-0 vote. “And foot­ball is com­ing to Car­son!”

Roars from jer­sey-wear­ing fans in the cramped coun­cil cham­bers fol­lowed the mayor’s words. The crowd quickly broke into a chant: “Bring them back! Bring them back!”

The de­ci­sion was the same as that of a com­pet­ing project in In­gle­wood, hop­ing to end the NFL’s two-decade ab­sence from the Los An­ge­les area.

In Fe­bru­ary, In­gle­wood’s City Coun­cil adopted a bal­lot ini­tia­tive for a $1.86-bil­lion sta­dium as part of a sprawl­ing mixed-use de­vel-

op­ment backed by bil­lion­aire St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Stock­bridge Cap­i­tal.

Now both would-be sta­di­ums have lo­cal ap­proval. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the projects will up­date a com­mit­tee of NFL own­ers on their progress Wed­nes­day dur­ing a meet­ing in New York.

Sup­port­ers of the Car­son project needed just eight days in March to col­lect more than 15,000 signatures in sup­port of their bal­lot ini­tia­tive, al­most twice the num­ber re­quired.

Like In­gle­wood, Car­son’s City Coun­cil had the op­tion of adopt­ing the ini­tia­tive or sched­ul­ing a public vote in July or Au­gust. The prospect of trans­form­ing a long-va­cant for­mer mu­nic­i­pal land­fill site next to the 405 Free­way into a 70,000-seat sta­dium proved too tempt­ing to de­lay.

The bal­lot ini­tia­tive process, fol­lowed by a coun­cil vote, al­lowed both pro­pos­als to skip lengthy en­vi­ron­men­tal re­views.

The stand­ing-room-only coun­cil meet­ing Tues­day re­sem­bled a pep rally. Team of­fi­cials, union lead­ers and fans in Charg­ers and Raiders jer­seys all urged the coun­cil to ap­prove the sta­dium. There was no sig­nif­i­cant op­po­si­tion.

“We don’t need a vote,” said Felix Her­nan­dez, dressed in the black No. 81 jer­sey of Raiders Hall of Fame re­ceiver Tim Brown. “The com­mu­nity has spo­ken. Foot­ball needs to come back to Los An­ge­les.”

But be­hind the ju­bi­la­tion, public de­tails about the project re­mained in short sup­ply.

Car­son of­fi­cials ac­knowl­edge that much of the deal with the de­vel­op­ers will be ne­go­ti­ated in the com­ing months. Tues­day’s vote is but one step.

The 26-page ini­tia­tive pe­ti­tion pledged that no tax dol­lars would be used, but con­tained few specifics about the pro­posed sta­dium. Gold­man Sachs will lead the in­vest­ment project, with per­sonal seat li­censes pro­jected to ac­count for about half of the cost.

A city-funded re­port re­leased over the week­end re­peat­edly noted the lack of de­tail: “As of the date of com­ple­tion of this re­port, no of­fi­cial project de­sign doc­u­ments have been pro­vided by the sta­dium de­vel­oper.” That re­port also raised con­cerns about con­struc­tion noise and find­ing an­other 16,000 off-site park­ing spots.

Though the re­port es­ti­mated that a one-team sta­dium could hurt Car­son’s bud­get be­cause the plan would im­peril $1.4 mil­lion in fed­eral hous­ing fund­ing, AECOM con­sul­tant David Stone said Tues­day that es­ti­mate was too con­ser­va­tive and that hous­ing could eas­ily be built else­where.

“I think this is a good deal for the city,” Stone said.

The con­sul­tant pro­jected that a one-team sta­dium would boost city rev­enue by $800,000 in its first year and $168 mil­lion over 40 years.

“This is an in­vest­ment in our chil­dren and our chil­dren’s chil­dren,” Coun­cil­man El­ito San­ta­rina said.

The com­plex plan calls for a new city agency and in­cludes a three-way land deal in­volv­ing the 168-acre prop­erty’s cur­rent owner, Star­wood Cap­i­tal, the Charg­ers and Car­son. The Charg­ers’ pur­chase of the land — the site of years of failed de­vel­op­ments that in­clude a shop­ping mall and a pro­fes­sional foot­ball sta­dium — is sched­uled to close at the end of the month.

There are en­vi­ron­men­tal considerations too. Re­me­di­a­tion mea­sures for the par­cel, which sits above de­posits of oil, sol­vents and heavy met­als, are about 80% com­plete and need an­other year to fin­ish.

Both the Charg­ers and Raiders con­tinue to pur­sue sta­di­ums in their cur­rent cities. But Jef­frey Pol­lack, a spe­cial ad­vi­sor for the Charg­ers, in­sisted the fran­chise is se­ri­ous about the Car­son plan. “We are ex­cited about Car­son as a shared so­lu­tion,” Pol­lack told the coun­cil.

An­thony Manolatos, spokesman for the Cit­i­zens Sta­dium Ad­vi­sory Group in San Diego, put the de­ci­sion in the hands of Charg­ers owner Dean Spanos.

“There will be a path to a new sta­dium here,” Manolatos said in a state­ment. “It sounds like there will be one in L.A. too. If so, it will be up to Mr. Spanos to de­cide if he wants a new sta­dium in San Diego or Los An­ge­les.”

As the cheers died down in Car­son, Robles said that given the more than 15,000 signatures gath­ered and the vo­cal sup­port Tues­day, the City Coun­cil had a sim­ple choice.

“They want this,” he said. “Why de­lay the in­evitable?”

Michael Robin­son Chavez Los An­ge­les Times

THE CITY COUN­CIL meet­ing in Car­son turned into a pep rally for fans of the Raiders and Charg­ers. The coun­cil voted 3-0 to ap­prove a $1.7-bil­lion sta­dium project.

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