LAFC Stadium Plan Unveiled, Debut Delayed Until 2018

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At a news conference on Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) announced plans to construct a 22,000-seat soccer-specific stadium near the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

Additionally, the club announced that its introduction into MLS has been pushed back from the 2017 season to the 2018 season so that the new venue can be used from the get-go.

The new stadium, which will be the crown jewel of a complex including restaurants, a conference centre, and a soccer museum, will be located right beside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. As a result, the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, which has been without a big-name professional sports tenant since the L.A. Clippers moved out in 1999, will be demolished.

“Los Angeles is a city famed for its creativity and innovation,” said Peter 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.”

The new venue will cost roughly $250 million, which will be 100 per cent privately financed.

It remains unclear how LAFC’s debut being pushed back a season will affect other future expansion clubs. Currently, an Atlanta franchise is set to debut in 2017, while Minnesota United FC will be making the jump up from the NASL come 2018. However, it was reported at the time of the Minnesota expansion announcement back in March that the club’s MLS debut could hinge on LAFC’s stadium search.

Brain Straus of Sports Illustrated quoted MLS Commissioner Don Garber as saying, ““Los Angeles is coming into our league and they are either ’17 or ’18 and Minnesota will be either ’17 or ’18.”

SI’s Grant Wahl also wrote that Garber said one of the two clubs would debut in 2017 and the other in 2018, depending on stadium situations.

Minnesota United FC have said they are trying to finalize a stadium plan of their own by July 1. Their ideal location is adjacent to Target Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins.

LAFC fans have been able to follow along with the stadium news using the hashtag #LAFCinLA. This is presumably a knock against their future crosstown rival LA Galaxy, whose StubHub Center home is located in suburban Carson, CA. Whereas the StubHub Center is located roughly 17 miles away from downtown Los Angeles according to Google Maps, the site of the new LAFC stadium is just under five miles away from the downtown core.

“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.”

At 22,000 seats, the new LAFC stadium would become the fifth-largest soccer-specific stadium in MLS. Only BMO Field (Toronto FC, capacity of 30,000), the StubHub Center (27,000), Red Bull Arena (New York Red Bulls, 25,000), and BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston Dynamo, 22,039) exceed that capacity.

Main Photo: Los Angeles Football Club