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Carson approves plans for NFL stadium

CARSON — It is now a race between the cities of Carson and Inglewood to see which city can lure a National Football League team or teams here first.

The Carson City Council voted 3-0 April 21 to approve plans for a $1.7 billion football stadium that could house the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders.

“There are two things we need in California,” Mayor Albert Robles said. “Rain and football. And football is coming to Carson.”

The council vote was made possible by backers of the stadium proposal, who submitted more than 15,000 signatures on petitions to the city last month, and the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office verifying last week that the required number of 8,058 signatures were valid.

The verification gave the council the option to approve the plan outright or schedule an election to give voters the final say. Going through the initiative process allows the project to avoid lengthy and expensive environmental reviews.

The Chargers and Raiders announced Feb. 19 they are working on a joint proposal to build a 72,000-seat stadium at Del Amo Boulevard and the San Diego (405) Freeway in Carson if they are unable to strike deals for new facilities in their respective cities.

A similar tactic was employed in Inglewood, where the City Council voted unanimously Feb. 24 to approve an initiative allowing for construction of an 80,000-seat stadium planned by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke at the former Hollywood Park racetrack site. Although Kroenke is behind the project, the Rams have not announced any intention of moving back to the Los Angeles area.

An NFL team has not played in the Los Angeles area since 1994, when the Raiders moved back to Oakland and the Rams left Anaheim for St. Louis.

Since then, the Southland has had a few teams contemplate moving here before staying put (and getting new stadium deals from their home cities) and lost a battle with Houston for an expansion team around the turn of the century.

More recently developer Ed Roski tried to lure a team to the Walnut and Diamond Bar area in the East San Gabriel Valley and entertainment giant AEG got the Los Angeles City Council to approve plans for a stadium downtown next to Staples Center. But neither Roski or AEG could interest a team with their stadium plans.

That changed early this year when Kroenke announced his plans to build a stadium in Inglewood while at the same time talking to St. Louis and Missouri officials about getting his team a new stadium next to the Mississippi River.

Within six weeks, the Raiders and Chargers were talking about moving to Carson, also while on negotiating with their current cities for new stadiums.

The Chargers issued a statement after the Carson vote this week, praising the City Council and the support from stadium supporters.

“We appreciate all of the Carson residents, organized labor representatives, and Los Angeles football fans who came out tonight to support the project,: the statement said.

“We are grateful for the careful consideration and positive vote of the Carson City Council and mayor, and we look forward to continuing our work with the community.”

According to a staff report to the Carson City Council, the Chargers-Raiders stadium proposal would not require any city funds for “construction, overruns, maintenance or capital improvements.”

The staff report also notes that the 157-acre site — located on a former landfill — is in the Boulevards at the South Bay Specific Plan area, which calls for a mix of commercial, retail, hotel and housing projects. The initiative essentially creates a “stadium overlay,” which allows the stadium as an alternative use of the property.

The report also notes that the Boulevards plan “has already undergone a significant amount of detailed land use, planning and environmental analysis, and a certified environmental impact report for the specific plan was adopted by the city in 2006.”

Despite city approval of the plans, the project was never developed due to the recession, according to the report.

In addition to the stadium, the latest project would also include a 350-room hotel, 850,000 square feet of commercial, entertainment and other uses, and a minimum of 10,000 parking spaces.

The city prepared an “impact report” addressing effects of the proposal on the city. The report concluded that the stadium would give the city a “signature project.”

“The stadium project will improve infrastructure at no cost to the city and provide increased police, fire and emergency services at no cost to the city,” according to the city staff report.

“The stadium project will also spur development of vacant and under-utilized land to the north and west into parking, service and entertainment uses ancillary to the stadium project.

“On the other hand, the stadium project will reduce the potential supply of housing in the city and the city will need to identify alternative affordable housing locations to meet its share of the regional housing needs.”