Los Angeles may see professional football once again, as the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders announced plans to build and share a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson if publicly-financed deals to stay in their respective cities fall through.
The teams announced via the Los Angeles Times:
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 … We respect the right of the NFL’s owners to decide on all Los Angeles-related relocation issues and understand that any relocation application that is filed for Los Angeles must obtain the approval of three-fourths of the NFL’s owners.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a news conference will be held Friday by “Carson2gether,” a group of business and labor leaders. The 168-acre land on which the stadium would be built was owned by Starwood Capital Group.
San Diego officials are upset with what they perceive as the Chargers’ duplicity, according to the Times. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer charged, “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. This would amount to abandoning generations of loyal Chargers fans.” George Mitrovich, president of the City Club of San Diego, echoed that the Chargers “engaged in blatant hypocrisy and untruth.”
Only last month, a nine-member committee started discussing a new stadium site for the Chargers.
Oakland officials affected a more sanguine response, according to the Times; Mayor Libby Schaaf quoted Raiders President Marc Badain saying on Thursday that the team believes its “No. 1 priority” is a new stadium in Oakland. Schaaf is against the city subsidizing such a project, but said she “respects” the Raiders’ right to move, adding sardonically, “They have done it before and they will do it again.”
The Raiders have been making noises about moving for some time; Owner Mark Davis told The San Francisco Chronicle a year ago that Oakland was on its “last chance” to hold the Raiders. The Raiders’ discontent was exacerbated by the failure of Colony Capital to bring its plan of a “Coliseum City” plan of football and baseball stadiums and retail shops to fruition. Davis, who has met with officials in San Antonio about moving there, said in December, “We can’t continue to play in that stadium, with the baseball field and all the dirt.”
A third prospect for an NFL team playing in Los Angeles also exists. The St. Louis Rams and Stockbridge Capital Group have discussed building a new 80,000 seat stadium on the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood. Inglewood Mayor James Butts Jr., whistled in the dark that the proposed Carson project would not hinder his city’s chances of attracting an NFL team. Inglewood City Council members may have a vote early next week to alter Hollywood Park’s plan to construct a stadium.
Back in St. Louis, supporters of building a new stadium for the Rams in St. Louis were undaunted by the Hollywood Park scenario. The Times quoted Dave Peacock, a businessman in charge of the project, saying, “We are very encouraged and thrilled with the progress we’ve made in our NFL riverfront stadium project in St. Louis and anticipate more headway in the weeks ahead.”
The NFL would only say that the league is aware of the machinations of the prospective Los Angeles teams; six owners from the league will evaluate the various options for teams interested in moving to Los Angeles.
The Chargers have played in San Diego for their entire existence except their first year in 1960, when they originated in Los Angeles; the Raiders started in Oakland, moved to Los Angeles between 1982 to 1994, then returned to Oakland. The Rams started in Cleveland in 1936, moved to Los Angeles in 1946, to Orange County between 1980-1994, then to St. Louis in 1995.
If either the Raiders or Chargers move to Los Angeles, according to the Chronicle, the NFL might ask the team to switch conferences.