There's been a lot of impressive wheeling and dealing and multi-agency coordination over the past few months as the city of Carson works with the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders on a proposed joint stadium in the city, battling it out with a potential Inglewood stadium to bring an NFL team (or two) back to Los Angeles. But perhaps the most incredible feat, according to Carson officials, is that the negotiations to bring a two-team stadium to the LA suburb were done without ever writing anything down. Anyway, that's what they told Voice of San Diego, a news organization based in the Chargers' current home, when VoSD filed two separate public records requests to try and look into the stadium proposal talks. VoSD is skeptical and is now suing the city of Carson.
The Carson stadium's road to construction has so far included the successful orchestration of a complicated land deal for the stadium site, a $50-million debt to finance the last stage of cleanup on the property (a former landfill), and a ballot initiative that helped it skirt California's tough environmental review law. Before all that happened, though, "Team officials said they'd been secretly negotiating with Carson leaders for at least a month prior to the announcement [of the planned stadium]," VoSD says (the announcement was made in February, shortly after St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced his plan to build a stadium in Inglewood). But in the two instances that VoSD attempted to get documents regarding those negotiations, they were shot down by lawyers for Carson, who—after requesting several extensions—told them both times that there were no such records.
As VoSD notes, Carson isn't saying that they don't want to turn these records over, or that they are exempt from public records laws; they are instead trying to say that these documents straight-up do not exist. No emails. No memos. No written or digital documents of any kind. Not even a text! If what Carson says is true, a $1-billion stadium deal and multiple, complex land sales were all conducted based entirely on handshakes and gentlemen's agreements, as if this were a deal to have Carson's kid mow the Chargers' lawn this summer. Terrifying.
VoSD is now suing the city of Carson in an attempt to get them to produce documents relating to the deal.
· We're Suing the City of Carson [VoSD]
· The Raiders and Chargers Just Proposed a Joint NFL Stadium in the Los Angeles Suburbs [Curbed LA]
· Carson to Finish Cleaning Up Toxic Old Landfill Site So They Can Put an NFL Stadium On It [Curbed LA]
· How LA's Two NFL Stadium Proposals Managed to Skirt California's Onerous Environmental Review Process [Curbed LA]