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Voters to Decide L.A.’s NFL Stadium

Representatives from the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders took the first step to erecting an NFL stadium in Carson, California on Wednesday, filing a ballot initiative with the city to shift zoning ordinances that would clear the way for a 70,000 seat stadium in the greater Los Angeles area.

In February, the Chargers announced an ambitious plan to build a privately-financed $1.7 billion stadium on the site of a former landfill in Carson. The team will share the stadium with the Oakland Raiders in a move that would bring an NFL team, or two, back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1994.

The Chargers hope to collect 12,000 signatures for presentation to the Carson City Council, according to the Los Angeles Times. Once just over 8,000 are received, the Council can approve the plan itself, or else schedule a public vote.

Either way, the Chargers are locked in to buy the stadium by the end of March, according to organization point man Mark Fabiani.

“There are no contingencies, there is no option,” Fabiani told the Times. “We have to buy it. Starwood has to sell it. The next period of weeks will be really important to determine community support.”

The Chargers and Raiders arrived at the Los Angeles-area NFL stadium party late; St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke had the ballot initiative for his proposed Inglewood stadium approved last week after collecting over 22,000 signatures.

However, the similarities between the two stadium plans end there. Kroenke reportedly wants to build a domed stadium nestled in the middle of a sprawling entertainment complex that will include a mall, restaurants, and real estate developments. Kroenke plans to own his stadium and recoup public utilities costs through tax revenue.

The Chargers and Raiders, on the other hand, have vowed that their stadium will be entirely privately-financed. Ownership of the stadium would be transferred to an independent public authority that will lease the stadium back to the teams, a move copied from the San Fransisco 49ers’ recent construction of Levi’s Stadium. Goldman Sachs will reportedly lend a majority of the funding to the public authority, to be repaid through stadium and ticket revenue.

Construction will begin on the Inglewood stadium in December, with or without a confirmed team in Los Angeles. In contrast, Carson stadium backers want a team to sign a 20-year contract to play there before ground can be broken on the site.

None of the 32 NFL teams have filed to relocate to Los Angeles yet, although the league has reportedly formed an exploratory committee focused on bringing a team to the area.

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