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Costa Mesa OKs Chargers' training camp lease

Costa Mesa OKs Chargers' training camp lease
Defensive end Joey Bosa (99) and other Chargers take the field Dec. 11 in a game against the Carolina Panthers. The Chargers will hold their summer training camp in Costa Mesa for up to the next 10 seasons. (File photo | AP)

With a unanimous City Council vote and a round of applause Tuesday night, Costa Mesa joined a select group of cities that can boast of hosting training camp for a professional football team.

For up to the next 10 seasons, the Los Angeles Chargers will hold their summertime camp at the city's Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex at 2750 Fairview Road.

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"We are lucky," team owner Dean Spanos said Tuesday. "We're also very proud and very honored to be a part of Costa Mesa and call this our home."

Ahead of the vote, council members Jim Righeimer and John Stephens donned Chargers caps, drawing cheers from a big audience at City Hall.

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"We are going to partner together and we're going to bring a Super Bowl to Costa Mesa," Stephens said. "We're going to bring a Super Bowl to the Chargers and we will cooperate with you and we will work hard and we will work together until you, Mr. Spanos, are hoisting that trophy."

On a 4-0 vote, the council approved a lease agreement for the National Football League franchise to use two fields at the sports complex for its annual training camp from mid- to late July until mid- to late August for up to 10 years.

Mayor Katrina Foley recused herself because she lives near the complex, which is next to Costa Mesa High School.

The complex's fields typically are closed for turf renovation during July and August, according to city officials, so the team is unlikely to interfere with other users.

The team also could use the complex during its bye week during the football season.

The Chargers will pay Costa Mesa about $150,570 a year for use of the fields. That money would be earmarked for improvements at the complex or to buy equipment.

The Chargers also plan to upgrade the fields they will use — Fields 3 and 4 — to bring them to NFL standards. The team anticipates making about $1 million worth of improvements to the complex, according to a post on the team's website.

In future years, the team will be responsible for prepping the fields to make sure they're ready for training camp.

Also as part of the deal, the Chargers will make a one-time $50,000 contribution to the city's mobile recreation program and a $10,000 donation to AYSO Region 120.

Having training camp at Jack Hammett further builds the team's relationship with Costa Mesa.

The Chargers, who are relocating from San Diego this year, also are developing their new headquarters and practice facility about two miles away at 3333 Susan St.

In an interview after the council vote Tuesday, Spanos said he was drawn to Costa Mesa not only because "it's one of the more beautiful places in Southern California" but also because of the positive outlook of its residents and city staff.

Some speakers at the meeting said the camp could positively affect the local economy since fans who attend might stay, shop and dine locally.

Others, though, questioned what kind of effects the camp might have.

Parking and traffic were major concerns for some, especially since the training camp would take place at roughly the same time as the nearby Orange County Fair.

Some said they worried that lights or noise from the camp could bother nearby residents.

But longtime Chargers fan Dave Goodman said: "There are only 32 cities in the United States that can say they have an NFL team holding training camp in their city, and we get to be one of them. I think the benefits far outweigh the concerns."

Council members acknowledged there might be some issues but said they're confident the city and the Chargers can work through any problems.

Spanos agreed.

"The last thing we want to do is have traffic issues, noise issues and everything else," he said. "This has to be, and will be, a good experience for the city. We want it to be. Trust me — we are sensitive to the neighbors that live right there and we want to do the right thing."

City officials said they plan to develop a parking and traffic management plan.

This won't be the first time high-level football teams have used the Hammett sports complex. The University of Alabama and Florida State University practiced there before playing for the BCS national championship at the Rose Bowl in 2010 and 2014, respectively.

"Both of these teams ended up becoming the national champion of those respective years," Councilman Allan Mansoor noted Tuesday. "I'm just saying."

Twitter: @LukeMMoney

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