The Los Angeles Football Club may not know exactly what the team will be called when they begin play in Major League Soccer in 2018, but they know where they'll be playing.
On Monday, LAFC's ownership group announced its intent to build a new 22,000-seat stadium in South Los Angeles, at the site of the Los Angeles Sports Arena, located next to the LA Memorial Coliseum.
“We are committed to making our home in South Los Angeles and to be part of the phenomenal development happening along the Figueroa corridor that extends to downtown Los Angeles,” said Henry Nguyen, head of LAFC's ownership group, in a club statement. The 24-member group also includes sports and entertainment mogul Peter Guber, businessmen Ruben Gnanalingam and Vincent Tan, Club President Tom Penn, U.S. soccer superstar Mia Hamm Garciaparra, NBA legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson, MLB All-Star Nomar Garciaparra, and best-selling author and entrepreneur Tony Robbins.
"Los Angeles is a city famed for its creativity and innovation,” said Guber, LAFC's executive chairman. "In that tradition we look forward to building a premier club, in a state-of-the-art stadium delivering a state-of-the-heart experience, and bringing the world’s game to the City of Angels."
LAFC's goal is to have the new stadium ready to go for their inaugural season in MLS in 2018. The club, which was announced as an MLS expansion franchise last summer, had originally planned to begin play in 2017.
The entire development, which the club says will bring $250 million in private investments to South Los Angeles, has been designed by LA-based architectural firm Gensler and will also include restaurants, office space, a conference center, and a soccer museum.
“We are not only committed to creating a dynamic soccer experience for our fans, but are equally excited about the impact our stadium and facilities will have in reshaping and revitalizing South Los Angeles,” Johnson said.
The construction of the new stadium in the underdeveloped South Los Angeles area is expected to produce a one-time economic activity of more than $275 million and over 1,200 new union and non-union jobs. Additionally, once open, the new stadium is estimated to generate more than $129 million in new economic activity, create more than 1,800 full-time jobs, and produce $2.5 million in annual tax revenue.
“Los Angeles loves soccer and now the greatest sports town in America gets even better," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "I know this ownership group is committed to representing the best our city has to offer. And I’m especially pleased that this proposed state-of-the-art stadium will be located in South Los Angeles to help revive that neighborhood and bring more jobs and opportunity for our residents.”
“This project is a tremendous gain for our community that will bring lasting benefits for our local economy including adding thousands of new local jobs and spurring new economic development opportunities for the district I represent – and all of Los Angeles,” said Councilman Curren Price, who represents the Sports Arena and surrounding South LA community.
"The proposed sports complex will not only promote the same excitement in our diverse city, but also bring an infusion of private investment to South LA," said L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson.
The development still has a few deadlines and benchmarks to meet before the final deal is in place. Councilman Price is expected to bring the matter before the City Council in hopes of quick action on completing the necessary environmental reviews, entitlements and infrastructure investment. The club also expressed its intent to meet with city and state officials to identify funding opportunities that the project will be qualified for under their guidelines, while affirming that "no money from the city’s general fund will be used for this project."
LAFC also announced that they have secured a preliminary agreement with the University of of Southern California, which is responsible for managing the Sports Arena site.
The renderings of the stadium show a sleek, modern building not far from downtown LA and close to both the highway and public transit options. They indicate that the new stadium will be intimate and boast overhanging roofs that will help contain and amplify the crowd noise and atmosphere.
“The new stadium will be absolutely spectacular,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “Los Angeles Football Club fans deserve a world-class stadium, and this facility will provide the appropriate environment for them to celebrate their club.”