LOS ANGELES, Calif — If you build it they will come. That’s been the mantra of MLS expansion club LAFC, who held a "Foundation Event" on Saturday for about 2000 fans at the site of their future Banc of California Stadium.
Yes, that was a play on words, chosen on purpose and evident from the outset. The club invited fans to take a look at progress on the construction site so far. Where there was once just a huge excavation site, there were now concrete supports and rebar indicating a west stand and auxiliary building in progress. Meanwhile a large blow-up soccer ball marked where center pitch will be.
But the club also invited its early supporters to quite literally leave their mark on it all -- they got to sign a large concrete disc that will be placed underneath center pitch as part of the stadium’s foundation. And after a brief statement to crowd by some of the invited dignitaries, LAFC president and owner Tom Penn, along with executive VP of soccer operations John Thorrington, signed it themselves. Then they hit the crowd for fan photos and meet-and-greets.
Photo by Idris Erba / @idriserba
And rounding out the family feel of the day? Fox Soccer’s Alexi Lalas showed up with his son, as did CNN’s Van Jones, whose son plays in LAFC’s youth system. What’s an LA event without some celebrity-spotting?
Besides just checking out the construction site, fans also enjoyed opportunities to grab freshly screen-printed Foundation shirts, whilesampling food trucks and a beer garden. Of course, LAFC's already well-established supporters' groups turned out, too, bringing banners and drums, and taking advantage of another opportunity to do what they love most: sing.
Photo by Imad Bolotok / @imadshoots
Photo by Idris Erba / @idriseba
The foundation imagery -- fans as part of the club’s foundation -- didn't escape fans in attendance. For those getting their first glimpse of the stadium in progress, it proved another example of LAFC feeling like a club they were building together.
“I know we have a lot of work to do,” said Justin Dunkin, of the Pasadena-based LAFC supporters' group Lucky Boys. “But it’s a very wonderful thing that LA is bringing another team into the centralized area of Los Angeles.”
Construction on the stadium is slated to finish in spring of 2018, ready to go with LAFC’s first season in MLS. For Black Army supporter Joe Aguilar, this new stadium fulfills a long-outstanding promise.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “To see it from the ground up, to be able to literally look down at the foundation and see that this is just the beginning of something -- exhilarating.”
Another supporter, Giuliana Viglione, echoed all of these sentiments. “It’s really fun to be able to influence the fan culture,” she said. “I think everyone supporting LAFC are soccer fans first and foremost, and we’ve been soccer fans for years and years. We’ll bring a unique culture to the game.”