Yesterday, Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) formally announced plans of building a new $250 million, 22,000 seat soccer specific stadium in southern Los Angeles. With the historic Coliseum serving as a picturesque backdrop, the stadium will be just 12 miles north of LA Galaxy’s StubHub Center in Carson, CA.
Don Garber, the Commissioner of Major League Soccer, said in a statement yesterday “In 2003, the original cathedral of soccer was built, now the StubHub Center down in Carson. To think that we would be here in downtown Los Angeles, looking at this environment, thinking about what could be our 17th or 18th soccer-specific stadium, is absolutely unthinkable.” LAFC could join the MLS as early as the 2017 season, or as late as the 2018 season, while Minnesota’s new franchise is slated for the same time frame as well, giving the MLS its 21st and 22nd teams.
The stadium would certainly be historic, as it would be the first open-air stadium constructed in Los Angeles since Dodger Stadium in 1962 and the most expensive privately financed soccer stadium in the country. Magic Johnson, one of the club’s minority owners, said in a statement on Monday:
We’ve already got all the permits. The public and private sectors got to come together when you’re building a stadium of this size. This is going to cost about $250 million, but everybody came together and made it happen. USC, we’re right on their campus, they got involved, they wanted to see the stadium here. So everybody came together and worked hard to make sure the stadium was going to come to fruition, and that’s what’s going to happen.
The new club and stadium will certainly stimulate economic activity as it will provide 1,200 construction jobs and another, 1,800 permanent positions. Furthermore, the new project will bring an infusion of private investment to South Los Angeles.
The Club’s ownership group is certainly a star studded one as it is headed by venture capitalist Henry Nguyen, entrepreneur Peter Guber and former NBA executive Tom Penn. Other investors include Magic Johnson, Nomar and Mia Hamm-Garciaparra, Chad Hurley and Tony Robbins.
Los Angeles already has a great reputation among the soccer community in this country, as the Los Angeles Galaxy has been the perennial power of the MLS through its first 20 seasons. On the collegiate side, many of the top programs are in the nearby area: UCLA, Cal Berkley, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. From the youth perspective, the surrounding area hosts 10 of the top 79 Academy teams in the country (Arsenal FC, Chivas USA, FC Golden State, LA Galaxy, Nomads SC, Pateadores, Real Salt Lake AZ, Real So Cal, San Diego Surf and Strikers FC.
This latest announcement furthers Major League Soccer’s strategic growth and development plans by seemingly adding teams in pairs from both big markets and smaller markets. This season, with the addition of New York FC and Orlando City, the league continued growth in perhaps the biggest sports market in the country (NYC) and yet brought the game back to Florida where it had been lacking a presence since 2002. It appears as though Garber and his staff will do something similar in 2017/18 with the addition of Minnesota and LAFC.
Not only is this a huge win for the city of Los Angeles, but Major League Soccer as a whole.