LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles FC gathered at epochal Union Station to unveil their crest and colors Thursday morning, but there was a certain scene-stealer lurking nearby. He struck at the optimal moment.
Some 24 minutes into LAFC's presentation, actor/comedian Will Ferrell climbed onto the stage at the downtown train station's historic concourse with chair in hand, sat down between Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Peter Guber, a Hollywood executive who is part of the club's ownership team, and then interrupted Mia Hamm Garciaparra, another owner, as she addressed the gathering of media and supporters.
Hamm Garciaparra, one of women's soccer's most prominent figures, then announced that Ferrell, a Southern California native whose family has long been involved in the sport, was the latest addition to an impressive LAFC ownership group that now numbers 25.
“This is no joke,” Ferrell said when he stepped to the dais. “I'm actually a member of this fine ownership group, and it's very exciting for me. I've never been a part-owner of anything. ... I'm still part-owner of an '84 [Toyota] Camry with my brother.”
The announcement that Ferrell had joined a group led by venture capitalist Henry Nguyen that already featured some needle-moving figures – Magic Johnson, Guber, and Hamm Garciaparra and her husband, former baseball star Nomar Garciaparra, among them – nearly overshadowed LAFC's primary presentation. Nearly.
With the Black Army supporters group, a holdover from disbanded Chivas USA, beating drums and cymbals and chanting out the club's name, managing partner Nguyen and club president Tom Penn showed off the club's color scheme – black and gold – along with a sharply designed crest, with “LA” in an art-deco font with the horizontal bar in the “A” soaring skyward like a wing, a nod to the “City of Angels.”
The setting was perfect: Union Station is an art-deco masterpiece and one of Los Angeles' most iconic locations.
It was the third major move by LAFC, slated to kick off in two years, since stepping into the space vacated with Chivas USA's demise following the 2014 season. It comes following last May's announcement that it would build a stadium on the site of the Los Angeles Sports Arena, adjacent to the Coliseum in Exposition Park, and last month's hiring of former MLS midfielder John Thorrington as the club's executive vice president of soccer operations.
Work began on the color scheme and logo last spring, Penn said.
“The process started before we knew where the stadium was going to be,” Penn said after the presentation, “and once we solidified that we were in the heart of Los Angeles, legitimately, with our brick and mortar, we really felt like we wanted to build around 'LA,' the moniker of 'LA,” because it's global. It's globally recognized, those two letters, and they mean something everywhere.”
The “wing” within the “A” was an “epiphany,” he said, and the design firm Spark International placed the logo inside a crest derived from the Seal of the City of Los Angeles. Once that was done, the club polled its fans about colors.
“If you look at the results [of the survey], it mirrors a lot of what's here, and this is unique in global football ...,” Penn said. “This is very representative of Los Angeles, both the gritty nature, the urban nature, of the streets and also the glamour nature of Hollywood and the Oscars.”
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Nguyen noted that the club has a third color that doesn't show up in the logo.
“Obviously, in the main crest itself, there isn't the color red, but red is still at the core of what we are,” he said. “We're at the core of this city, we are at the heart of this city, and we want to make sure that blood runs through everything we do.”
Ferrell, who did not speak with media following the news conference, noted that he “started playing soccer on the mean streets of Irvine,” in Orange County, when he was 8. His Swedish-born wife, Viveca Paulin, was an all-conference soccer player at nearby Pomona College in the late 1980s, and their three sons play soccer.
Ferrell starred in “Kicking and Screaming,” a 2005 comedy about youth soccer, and made an appearance in Recife, Brazil, to pump up US fans during the 2014 World Cup.
“To say soccer is a part of our lives is an understatement,” he said.
LAFC also announced that game developer Brandon Beck, the CEO and co-founder of Riot Games, also had joined the ownership group. Ferrell and Beck are alumni of USC, which is located immediately north of Exposition Park.
Ferrell's involvement with LAFC started on a youth soccer field. The children of Larry Berg, another of the owners, play soccer with Ferrell's sons.
“Larry approached Will about the idea of becoming involved, and [Ferrell's] love of sports and his love of this sport is well-known, and we met with him months ago at Peter Guber's house,” Penn said. “He's genuinely excited. He's so connected to USC, he's very active in sports, you saw what he did in the World Cup. He’s a real resource.
“Peter Guber has a saying: None of our owners are passengers, they're all participants. For me, it's the ability to pick up the phone and contact any of them for whatever we need, and adding Brandon Beck and Will Ferrell is going to be very helpful.”