The San Diego Chargers are seeking community support via a ballot initiative for a new Carson stadium, as team owners are locked into buying a 168-acre site for an NFL facility.
The Chargers continue to talk with San Diego officials about a new stadium, but with a desired downtown site off the table, options for both sides are limited. And with the Chargers contractually obligated to a Carson land purchase for a $1.7-billion stadium, there is certainly a path for the team to move to Los Angeles and perhaps share the facility with a second team.
Right now signatures are being gathered to put a ballot question to voters, asking that the former landfill site be zoned for a new stadium. The Chargers envision a tradition stadium setup, with a standalone facility surrounded by parking, perhaps with limited development in the form of a hotel or museum. No public money would be directly used for the stadium, but a stadium authority would be established to finance the facility, which would then be leased back to the Chargers. From the Los Angeles Times:
The team-financed campaign hopes to collect more than 12,000 signatures by mid-April. After 8,041 signatures are certified, the ballot measure will go to Carson’s City Council. Its members could approve the plan themselves or schedule a public vote, likely this summer.
The initiative, which took project backers about two months to assemble, would create a public authority in Carson to own the stadium and lease it back to the teams. The arrangement is similar to how the San Francisco 49ers paid for the $1.2-billion Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. An investment group led by Goldman Sachs lent $850 million to that public authority and a team subsidiary to finance construction, to be paid back by revenue from the stadium.
Goldman Sachs is lining up financing for the Carson project, as well.
If the city council approves the initiative — and every indication is that they will — the next move will be assembling the financial plan. And if it reaches that point, San Diego officials will need to woo another team if the city is to retain NFL football.