Backers of a proposed $1.7 billion NFL Stadium to house the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders in Carson insisted Friday that project will not be built at taxpayer expense and will create thousands of jobs.
Specifics of the financing plan for the stadium, however, were not released at a pep-rally-like news conference, during which Carson and South Bay officials hailed the proposal for a stadium at Del Amo Boulevard and the San Diego (405) Freeway as a game-changer for the city.
“I just want to say that this opportunity for the people of Carson is an enormous opportunity,” Carson Mayor Jim Dear said. “It will change Carson for the better in a very dramatic way.”
The Chargers and Raiders, both of which have been pushing for new stadiums in their respective cities, announced Thursday they were working together on a 72,000-seat Carson stadium proposal on the 168-acre parcel, in conjunction with a coalition of business and labor leaders known as “Carson2gether.”
“We have both been working in our home markets to find a stadium solution for many years, so far unsuccessfully,” according to a joint statement issued by the teams. “We remain committed to continuing to work in our home markets throughout 2015 to try to find publicly acceptable solutions to the long-term stadium issue.
“… We are pursuing this stadium option in Carson for one straightforward reason: If we cannot find a permanent solution in our home markets, we have no alternative but to preserve other options to guarantee the future economic viability of our franchises.”
According to the coalition, the stadium would be privately financed and generate “millions” in annual tax revenue for the city. The group outlined four guiding principles of the project — creating thousands of construction and stadium jobs, a community benefit program, use of environmentally friendly technology and no use of existing tax revenue or city funds. The project will be funded “solely by the revenues generated by the stadium,” spokesman Fred MacFarlane said.
There was no immediate discussion of whether stadium backers would be funding needed improvements for the project, such as public streets and other infrastructure.
The group plans to gather signatures on petitions that would either land the stadium proposal on the ballot or send the matter directly to the Carson City Council for approval.
Numerous council members attended the rally-like news conference — a sign that the project would face little opposition at City Hall.
“Welcome Raiders! Welcome Chargers!” Councilwoman Elito Santarina shouted to the delight of the cheering crowd. “This is a great day for every individual, for every single person that lives and supports the city of Carson,” she said.
Councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes added, “This is a history-making moment for us.”
Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro and a candidate for the county Board of Supervisors, stressed that she did not want to steal NFL franchises from other cities.
“We want the Chargers to know and we want the Raiders to know if you can’t work it out with your cities, we welcome you with open arms here in Carson,” she said. “We will give you a beautiful new stadium. We will give you fans like you have never had before.”
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, however, was outraged at the disclosure of the planned Carson stadium.
“It’s now abundantly clear that while we have been working here in San Diego to create a plan for a new stadium, the Chargers have for some time been making their own plans for moving to Los Angeles,” he said. “This would amount to abandoning generations of loyal Chargers fans.”
The city of San Diego has created a task force charged with finding a stadium site for the Chargers and developing a financing plan. Adam Day, chairman of that task force, called news of the Carson proposal “a complete surprise.”
“… While it’s disappointing to hear the Chargers are moving forward with plans in Los Angeles, we remain committed to finding a solution in San Diego,” Day said. “We’re working toward selecting a site and developing a financing plan for a stadium, and we’re going to stay focused on that.”
The NFL responded to the Carson proposal with a brief statement: “We are in regular contact with all involved clubs. All clubs have been meeting their responsibilities to keep us informed.”
Earlier this month, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reminded team owners that relocating a franchise requires “multiple approvals from NFL ownership,” and such a move “can only be granted by a three-fourths vote of the clubs.”
Meanwhile, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has joined with the developers of the former Hollywood Park site in Inglewood to announce plans for an 80,000-seat stadium at the location.
The Hollywood Park developers have already collected enough signatures to have the stadium issue placed on the city ballot. The Inglewood City Council is expected to certify the signatures during its meeting on Tuesday.
The city of Los Angeles, meanwhile, has an agreement in place with the Anschutz Entertainment Group for an NFL stadium adjacent to the Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles. That deal is contingent on an NFL team agreeing to relocate to the facility.
Developer Ed Roski has also been pushing a stadium proposal in Industry.
An NFL team has not played in the Los Angeles area since 1994.
The Los Angeles Raiders played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1982-1994, before returning to Oakland in 1995. The Los Angeles Rams played in the Coliseum from 1946-1979 and at what was then known as Anaheim Stadium from 1980-1994 before moving to St. Louis in 1995.
The Chargers played at the Coliseum in their inaugural 1960 season when they were a member of the American Football League, then moved to San Diego in 1961.
—City News Service