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Carson NFL stadium backers get 14,000 ballot initiative signatures

Backers of an NFL stadium in Carson have collected more than 14,000 signatures in support of ballot initiative

The plan to build a $1.7-billion stadium for the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders in Carson moved ahead Saturday as backers collected more than 14,000 signatures in support of a ballot initiative for the project.

Organizers of the petition drive, bankrolled by the Chargers and Raiders, originally expected it to last until mid-April. Instead, they needed just eight days.

“The signature-gathering effort, which moved forward at an unusually rapid pace, revealed an extremely high level of support for the stadium project in Carson,” said Mark Fabiani, point man on stadium issues for the Chargers.

The signatures, about twice as many needed to qualify the initiative for a public vote or consideration by the Carson City Council, continued the quickening pace of the competition to return the National Football League to the Los Angeles area.

A rival stadium project in Inglewood, backed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, gathered more than 22,000 signatures for its ballot initiative during three weeks in January. Last month, Inglewood’s City Council unanimously approved the initiative.

The initiative process allows zoning changes for the stadiums to bypass lengthy and expensive environmental review.

The Carson proposal, on the site of a former landfill next to the 405 Freeway, will follow the same bureaucratic path as Inglewood's. The L.A. County registrar's office has 30 business days to certify that the collected signatures are from among the more than 46,000 registered voters in Carson. Organizers need signatures from 15% of registered voters -- 8,041 for Carson -- to put the initiative on the ballot this year.

After certification, the City Council can vote to adopt the initiative or schedule a election to let voters decide within the next three or four months.

In Inglewood, the process from submission of the signatures to approval of the initiative took about a month.

The Carson City Council is set on Monday to order environmental, fiscal and land-use analyses of the privately financed stadium proposal, to be completed by April 21. While the city will hire its own experts, up to $150,000 of the cost to produce the reports will be paid by the Chargers and Raiders.

If the signatures are verified in time and Carson follows Inglewood's example, City Council members could approve the plan as soon as those reports are presented.

The deal for the Chargers to purchase the 168-acre stadium site is scheduled to close at the end of the month.

Times staff writer Tim Logan contributed to this report.

Twitter: @nathanfenno

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