An artist's rendition of the proposed Carson stadium. Photo: Manica Architecture
For the first time in two decades, it appears the National Football League's return to Los Angeles could be more reality than wishful thinking. Tuesday night, the Long Beach City Council took a stand as to which city it would prefer a potential team to land in, passing a resolution supporting the City of Carson and its efforts to lure the Raiders and Chargers to the Southland.
In the letter drafted by Mayor Robert Garcia, he outlined the economic impacts the building of the proposed stadium could have on the region as a whole, particularly regarding the influx of tourism and retail business for Long Beach.
“The construction of a football stadium in the City of Carson will create economic benefits for surrounding cities, including increases to hotel, restaurant, and entertainment revenue in the City of Long Beach,” Garcia wrote. “The stadium project will also provide living wage jobs to surrounding residents during the construction period and for the long-term.”
The move came on the same night that the Carson City Council moved to fast-track the cleanup process of the land that’s been earmarked for construction of the stadium the Raiders and Chargers would call home. In a unanimous vote, the council moved to finance the final phase of cleanup of the plot of land that formerly served as landfill, a project that is expected to cost over $50 million.
Carson’s haste is due in part to the City of Inglewood’s own desire to land an NFL team and its alliance with St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who plans to break ground on his own multi-use stadium facility by year's end with or without a team. Kroenke—who owns multiple professional sports teams including the Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and the Premier League’s Arsenal— is expected to spend upward of $1.8 billion on his stadium, one that he expects the Rams to call home in the near future.
The City of Carson’s plan came under fire from a local television and radio host as public documents retrieved by the host showed both the Chargers and Raiders were limiting their exposure to litigation by transferring any potential litigious issues that could arise from an environmental disaster to Carson. A federal law stipulates that if a piece of contaminated land is purchased, the owner is liable for any environmental issues that occur on it. In a radio interview Monday, Carson Mayor Albert Robles did not completely shoot down the idea that his city was being used as leverage so that the Chargers and Raiders could strike better deals with their home cities.
“There is a shred of possibility to what you’re saying is true, we’ll leave it at that,” he told the show.
Regardless of the legal loopholes, the Long Beach council passed the resolution with a 7-0 vote with some of them revealing their fandom during their comments. In addition to being a Raiders fan for over 30 years, Seventh District Councilman Roberto Urganga joked that his wife, a Charger fan like First District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, wouldn’t let him come home if he didn’t vote in favor of the proposal.
“I would love to see them back,” Uranga said of the idea of the Raiders moving back to LA. “It’s a great opportunity for the region, not only Long Beach, but neighboring cities as well to be able to benefit from the added revenue that would come from having two NFL teams in the region.”