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Carson residents take leap of faith on stadium plans

CARSON — Backers of a proposed football stadium here that could house both the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are beginning a petition drive March 12 in hopes of expediting the project by putting it on the ballot or getting immediate approval from the City Council.

Carson2gether.com, the business and union coalition backing the stadium proposal, will hold a 4:30 p.m. rally at Mission Ebenezer Family Church, 415 W. Torrance Blvd., to begin the petition drive.

Stadium supporters will circulate petitions calling for a ballot initiative that would change the zoning on a parcel of land along the San Diego (405)  Freeway and Del Amo Boulevard where the proposed 70,000-seat stadium would be located.

“Our task right now is to circulate petitions and really capitalize on the enthusiasm in the Carson community for this project,” said Fred MacFarlane, the spokesman for Carson2gether, the group behind the signature drive.

Carson resident, Johnny Garibay Ochoa said the stadium plan, “will bring revenue to businesses in Carson.”

Another Carson resident, Jessie Torres said, “Let’s get these signatures done.”

The campaign hopes to collect more than 12,000 signatures by mid-April. Backers need 8,041 signatures of Carson registered voters to send the proposed ballot measure to the City Council.

Once the signatures are gathered and verified, the council can call for a special election on the issue or skip the election and change the zoning by ordinance.

Lucia Tafoya, a stadium supporter, said, “like every city in the USA, Carson has its good and its bad. This is the same issue that came up when the soccer stadium [now known as StubHub Center] was a topic and it all worked out quite well. I’m personally optimistic of what it can do for the city, and bring the Raider Nation back to L.A.”

“We can bring these teams to Carson, but it’s going to take a united effort,” City Councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes said. “Who would have thought that not one, but two teams would want to come to Carson?”

Carson is following the same path the neighboring city of Inglewood took earlier this year and, like Inglewood, the possibility of a local NFL stadium has plenty of residents excited.

“I was excited before, about 20 years ago,” Carson Planning Commission Chairman Loa Pele Faletogo said. “Don’t disappoint us, NFL. I hope this will come to fruition. Carson will do its part. NFL, please do your part.”

Under the city’s plan, the Chargers and Raiders would be required to sign a 20-year lease before the city would grant final approval to build the stadium.

Carson Mayor Jim Dear said, “We will ensure that our community benefits directly from the thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars of new economic activity that this project will generate.”

Dear estimates the stadium would generate $3 million to $4 million annually in tax revenue for Carson, with the entire development generating as much as $6 million annually.

Curtis Gavin, 75, was ecstatic when he heard an NFL stadium might be built in Carson. It could bring new jobs, hotels and restaurants, he said.

“The city needs to change,” he said. “We’ve got the land. It needs to be utilized for something positive.” Unlike the Inglewood plan, the Carson stadium plan calls for two NFL franchises playing in the same stadium, something the league itself wants for the Los Angeles market, according to sources with knowledge of what the NFL is thinking. A new stadium here also could be used for future Super Bowls, college bowl games and a variety of concerts and other large entertainment events.

The Chargers, Raiders and Rams — the three NFL teams without long-term leases in their current stadiums — could move to the Southland as soon as the 2016 season, although they would have to play somewhere else for probably two seasons before a new stadium is built. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum are two places most commonly mentioned that could house teams on an interim basis.

With less than 30,000 seats, StubHub Center would be too small for the NFL to consider as an interim location.

City Councilman Albert Robles spoke like a true fan when he said “We’re going to bring football back to Southern California, where we need it, where we want it.”

AEG, the corporation behind the Farmer’s Field stadium proposal in downtown Los Angeles, resorted to scare tactics in an effort to protect its stadium turf.

AEG has released two reports saying the Inglewood site was not a good location for a stadium due to its proximity to Los Angeles International Airport that terrorists might find attractive for an attack.

Dear said AEG, which owns and operates StubHub Center, had an official call him and say they were not happy that the city was considering building another stadium so close to their facility.

Unlike Inglewood’s plan, which includes retail space, housing and a 6,000-seat theater — along with the 80,000-seat stadium — on the 298-acre former Hollywood Park site, the Carson concept calls only for a football stadium, with room for more than 18,000 parking spaces leaving room for fans to tailgate prior to games.

The stadium would be built on the long-vacant 157-acre Carson Marketplace site.




An artist's rendering of the proposed football stadium in Carson. Carson stadium backers are following Inglewood’s lead in trying to speed up the process. (Courtesy photo)
An artist’s rendering of the proposed football stadium in Carson. Carson stadium backers are following Inglewood’s lead in trying to speed up the process. (Courtesy photo)