Vergara: Chivas need their own home, in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES – Chivas USA are a wanted club throughout the land.
Despite missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year, having a skeleton crew as a coaching staff and owning a roster full of question marks, Los Rojiblancos are apparently targets of other cities, according to owner Jorge Vergara.
It’s all quite flattering, Vergara said Tuesday, but a move away from Southern California is not part of the club’s future.
“There are other offers for us,” said Vergara in a press conference. “A city in Texas is offering us the moon and the stars but it’s very clear why we chose Los Angeles. We paid extra to be in Los Angeles when we joined MLS. We are going to stay here. We have no intentions of moving away from Los Angeles.”
But a move within Los Angeles, perhaps to the city proper, is very much a goal of this club. With Chivas de Guadalajara owner Vergara taking over full ownership of Chivas USA, one of his top priorities is to build and move to a new home. While there is not yet a timeline for such a move, Vergara said the move is of the utmost urgency.
“It’s clear that we need our own home like we have in Mexico,” said Vergara, referring to the Guadalajara parent club. Before moving into Estadio Omnilife, Chivas shared the Estadio Jalisco with local rivals Atlas.
In this situation, Chivas USA share a stadium with the more prominent club in the city, the LA Galaxy. The Home Depot Center has been the teams’ home stadium since Chivas USA joined MLS in 2005.
“Home Depot Center will be the location for the next number of years for sure until we’re able to find a stadium to develop and ultimately build,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber told reporters after Tuesday's press conference. “Home Depot Center has been great. I don’t think the reason why they haven’t grown their fan base has been Home Depot Center.”
The main site tossed about has been in Exposition Park near the campus of the University of Southern California. Vergara said he would re-open talks with USC over the construction of a new stadium there, a move Garber said would have the league’s support.
“The league gets very engaged with all of our clubs in stadium development and, by the way, we’re pretty good at it,” he said. “We’ve been working for the last year or so on a project here, we’re going to continue now that ownership has been finalized, and try to get that stadium back on track. It certainly was delayed for many, many months. We’ll give them a call and hope they’re still interested.”
While the potential for a stadium near USC exists, it is not an all-or-nothing situation. Chivas USA have had talks with other cities about construction of a potential new stadium. To start fantasizing about a new stadium in one particular site is perhaps a bit early.
“There have been other sites that [former owners] the Cues had been looking at, there were a wide variety of sites in Southern California,” Garber said. “It’s very preliminary to talk about the where. What we are very focused on is the it, we are very focused on getting them their own soccer stadium.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.