Stadium Votes Bypass EIR

Campaign finance reports in the California cities of Carson and Inglewood – where football stadiums are to appear on upcoming ballots – seem to reveal how relatively little it costs to fast-track such proposals.

Photo: AP Photo / Oscar W. Gabriel
The Forum can be seen in the background of where Stan Kroenke’s football stadium would be in Inglewood, Calif. The $2 billion stadium plan, which could house Kroenke’s St. Louis Rams if not another NFL team, could break ground almost immediately.

The Inglewood stadium, which would be home to the St. Louis Rams, received $1.7 million in ballot initiative support from team owner Stan Kroenke, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Backing of the Carson plan came to the tune of $534,000 from the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders that propose to share the proposed venue. All three teams used ballot initiatives for an end-run around lengthy (and costly) environmental reviews and planning approvals. And the two projects were proposed to and approved by their respective city councils to go to votes in a matter of weeks, instead of years.

That fast-tracking gave them both an apparent quick edge over other proposals, such as AEG’s now-moribund downtown stadium proposal. AEG spent $27 million on a 10,000-page environmental impact report for its Farmers Field proposal in 2012, according to the Times, and another $50 million total on the project that has now been scrapped.

How did that happen? A new California law exempts projects proposed by ballot initiative from the environmental impact review process. And the campaigns to get those ballot proposals approved by voters are largely funded by those proposing them. 

Citizens for Revitalizing the City of Champions, the Inglewood campaign, is funded almost completely by the Kroenke Group. The lone exception is a $50,000 donation from Kroenke’s Hollywood Park Land Co. partners. The Carson proposal is backed by a joint venture of the Chargers and Raiders, which paid for signature-gathering, legal costs and a “digital campaign,” according to the Times.