LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lawmakers in a Los Angeles suburb on Tuesday night voted to approve construction of a 70,000-seat National Football League stadium that could accommodate a proposed return of the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders.
The three-member city council of Carson, about 17 miles (27 km) south of downtown Los Angeles, voted unanimously in favor of the plan to build the $1.7 billion arena, following a petition drive paid for by the two NFL teams, both of which previously played in Los Angeles.
“Football is coming to Carson,” new Mayor Albert Robles said at the meeting, adding that construction could begin as soon as the end of the year.
A few dozen people, many of whom were clad in Raiders and Chargers jerseys and waved team flags, packed the meeting, which was punctuated with chants of “Bring them back!”
Nearly all of the roughly 20 people who spoke during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s hearing expressed support for the project.
A rival stadium project in the nearby city of Inglewood was unanimously approved by its city council in February.
The 168-acre (68-hectare) site for the potential stadium in Carson, located near major freeways, would also host entertainment events and provide hotel and retail space, according to city documents. An impact report forecasts the project becoming a “regional attraction.”
The Los Angeles region, the second-largest market in U.S. sports, has been without an NFL franchise since 1995, when the Rams left Anaheim for St. Louis and the Raiders returned to Oakland.
The Chargers and the Raiders proposed a plan in February that would have the two teams share a new stadium in Carson if they fail to solve problems with their current venues. The funds would come from private sources.
Both teams have tried for years to reach deals on new stadiums, and their owners have repeatedly said they were willing to move to Los Angeles, which does not have an NFL team.
The Chargers originated in Los Angeles and played there for a year in 1960 under the American Football League before moving to San Diego. The Raiders played in the city from 1982 to 1994.
Inglewood’s competing stadium plan names St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke as a developer. That venue would be part of a larger entertainment, commercial and residential development on 238 acres (96 hectares) near Los Angeles International Airport.
A third NFL stadium plan, proposed for downtown Los Angeles, was dropped in March by Anschutz Entertainment Group.
Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Curtis Skinner, Eric Beech and Eric Walsh