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Carson stadium supporters deliver 40 boxes of petitions

CARSON — Declaring victory in its signature drive to expedite approval of a proposed stadium that could house the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, a group of community and business leaders delivered 40 boxes of petitions to Carson City Hall March 28.

Members of Carson2gether said they have collected more than 15,000 signatures from Carson voters. The group needs 8,041 valid signatures to put the issue before the City Council, which can either place the proposal on the ballot or approve it outright.

Backers of the $1.7 billion plan marched from a hotel to Carson City Hall — led by drummers wearing Chargers and Raiders jerseys — to deliver the boxes of petitions.

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 if they are unable to strike deals for new facilities in their respective cities.

Following the lead of Inglewood, where St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is planning to build a stadium at the former Hollywood Park racetrack site, backers of the Carson stadium want to push the project forward through the initiative process.

With enough petition signatures, the project will go directly to the Carson City Council. The initiative process allows the project to avoid lengthy and expensive environmental reviews.

The Inglewood City Council voted unanimously Feb. 24 to approve an initiative allowing for construction of Kroenke’s planned 80,000-seat stadium.

Although Kroenke is behind the project, the Rams have not announced any intention of moving back to the Los Angeles area.

The Carson proposal has come under fire from officials with entertainment giant AEG, which recently scrapped its plan to build an NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles. AEG Vice Chairman Ted Fikre said the company supports efforts to bring the NFL back to the area, but his firm opposes the fast-track petition drives being used to circumvent state environmental review laws.

AEG spent an estimated $25 million on an environmental impact report for its downtown stadium plan.

An NFL team has not played in the Los Angeles area since the 1994 season. The Raiders moved back to Oakland after that season and the Rams relocated to St. Louis.

The NFL has said the earliest a team could relocate to Los Angles in for the 2016 season.

Speaking at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix March 28, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said finding the right fit, not speed, is driving the process of finding a new team or teams for the Los Angeles market.

“Right now our focus is on the process, making sure we’re evaluating the opportunities in their existing markets and making sure we understand that,” Goodell said. “And also making sure that we understand what it takes to be successful in Los Angeles long-term.”

He said he expects all three teams considering a move to Los Angeles to meet with the owners’ Los Angeles relocation committee sometime next month, with a full report being presented to all 32 owners at the next ownership meeting in May.

“There will be a lot of dialogue,” Goodell said. “There’s a tremendous amount of focus on the stadium alternatives, looking at those stadium alternatives, marketing studies in all of the markets — including the current markets. So there’s a great deal of work being done, and I would expect that will continue at a very disciplined pace.”