New Irwindale Site for Raiders Park Suggested

Times Staff Writer

The possibility of shifting the site of the proposed Los Angeles Raiders stadium in Irwindale has been raised by Irwindale Mayor Pat Miranda, who expressed concern about resistance by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Los Angeles County officials to providing parking land for the preferred stadium site.

After learning of adverse environmental comments by federal officials to proposals to use a 170-acre parcel in the Santa Fe Dam basin for stadium parking, Miranda told a City Council study session last week that he felt it might be advisable to choose another location for the stadium.

The alternate site would be on private land in Irwindale, not subject to federal or county control, west of the San Gabriel River Freeway and south of the Foothill Freeway. Other private land nearby could be used for the parking. The preferred site up to now is about a mile away, north of the Foothill Freeway just west of the Irwindale Avenue exit.

The alternate site is listed as a possible choice in a stadium environmental impact report that has been under preparation for more than a year and is expected to be approved Thursday by the City Council.


But Miranda’s comments about actually using it drew a suggestion from City Manager Charles Martin that it is probably premature to discuss it. And John Herrera, a senior Raiders official who was at the meeting, said he knew little about the proposed site.

Questions about the stadium site are but one of many uncertainties that have arisen in the last few months about the Raiders’ Irwindale deal. Irwindale has been under a September, 1987, Superior Court order blocking it from going ahead with a final stadium agreement with the Raiders and arranging financing for the stadium until the environmental report is approved by the court as well as the City Council.

In the meantime, questions have arisen whether adequate financing can be obtained for a project with a cost estimated at $150 million, and two of the three men who negotiated a preliminary agreement with the Raiders--Xavier Hermosillo and Fred Lyte--have been discharged from the matter by city authorities.

Harm to Wildlife Cited

And in a Dec. 13 letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency opposed any lease of the 170 acres of federal property to Irwindale or the Raiders for parking at the preferred stadium site.

At present, this vacant land is leased by Los Angeles County, and both county and Corps of Engineers approval would be needed for it to be used.

The Environmental Protection Agency letter called the land in question a “premiere remnant example of alluvial sage scrub habitat” and “an integral part of a wildlife corridor that stretches from the (Santa Fe Dam) basin to the San Gabriel Mountains.” It suggested there would be irreversible harm to the wildlife if it were paved for parking.

“It looks like the county and the corps are trying to hold this project back,” Miranda said at the Council study session. He said the alternate site might be better because it “would not involve them at all.”

But W. J. Lockman, whose firm is in charge of preparing the environmental impact report, told council members that frequent contacts he has had with the Corps of Engineers and county authorities led him to believe that eventually they will support the leasing of the parking land. “Of course, it will take a lot of time,” he said.

Way to Speed Up Corps

The corps usually moves slowly in such matters, and Irwindale officials said they have received suggestions that the only way to effectively move the agency along is to find a willing congressman who has clout with it.

But there are troubles at the county level too, with some county supervisors reluctant to support any step that would facilitate the Raiders’ plans to quit the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for Irwindale.

The preferred stadium site is on private land, but unless proposed parking land controlled by the government agencies is made available, stadium-goers would have to be shuttled by bus from as far as a mile away.