While New England struggle to get even one soccer specific stadium, it looks Los Angeles area is about to get its second. MLS expansion club Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC), unveiled its plans for a new stadium Monday that it promised would be a “cathedral” for soccer while helping to revitalize what has traditionally been one of Los Angeles’ more troubled neighborhoods.
The privately financed $250 million complex on the site of the Los Angeles Sports Arena, next to the Coliseum in Exposition Park, will include a 22,000-seat stadium that the Los Angeles Football Club, its current name, although that could change, will call home when it kicks off in 2018.
Managing partner Henry Nguyen described the planned facility as
“an intimate, really tight, urban, sound-box stadium.”
“We want it to be one of the cathedrals of soccer in this country and around the world,” he said at a press conference at the proposed stadium site on Monday. “The great opportunity here is that LA is the world city, and this is the monument to the world’s game here.”
“We want to be an Old Trafford [Manchester United’s stadium] or a Camp Nou [Barcelona’s stadium],” he told reporters later. “We want to build that kind of not only environment, but landmark.”
LAFC originally intended to begin play in MLS in 2017, but the timeline for stadium development forced them to delay their entry by a year. Nguyen, who heads a deep-pocketed and big-name ownership group that also includes sports and entertainment mogul Peter Guber, US World Cup champion Mia Hamm Garciaparra, and NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, acknowledged some disappointment with the delay, but noted that it was necessary.
“I think we’d all like to get started as soon as we can, but these processes take time,” he said. “We’re fortunate that this site has an environmental impact report that was already completed, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve got a clear, unobstructed path forward. We still have a lot of work to do, and that’s going to take time.
“We’re very fortunate with the city council and the mayor’s office and the management of Exposition Park here, I think everybody’s leaning forward and supportive of getting this done, but there’s still a lot of things that we’ve got to make sure that we do the right things.”
Los Angeles is a destination that has allowed the LA Galaxy to continually attract big names from Europe like David Beckham, Robbie Keane and now Steven Gerrard. I am sure that LA FC will so the same, which will only make the MLS as a whole stronger in the long run.