New Stadium Unveiled for LA Football Club
Soccer Team plays First Game Sunday
April 26, 2018
The City of Los Angeles celebrated a major venue opening like only this city can. Major League Soccer's newest franchise, the Los Angeles Football Club, unveiled its brand new home: The Banc of California Stadium on Wednesday, April 18. The inaugural match takes place at 6:00 p.m. this Sunday, April 29, when LAFC hosts the Seattle Sounders
The late-morning ceremony was awash in sunshine greeting the packed audience, eager to welcome the city's latest sports and entertainment facility. State-of-the-art and visually striking, the stadium was built in less than two years on the former site of the Los Angeles Sports Arena, adjacent to the Coliseum.
The ribbon cutting ceremony featured LAFC's multiple owners, the Mayor of Los Angeles, L.A. City Councilmembers, the MLS Commissioner and several major sports personalities, who also happen to be owners. Hundreds in the outdoor setting soaked up with approval 11 speeches in about 44 minutes, ending with a group ribbon cut and drop.
"Welcome to the heart of the City, welcome to Banc of California Stadium. My name is Tom Penn and I'm humbly here as the President and Co-Owner of LAFC and Banc of California Stadium," pronounced Penn, opening the event.
"After 20 months of hard work, construction, after 3 1/2 years of really hard work, we did it! (Big applause) When I say we, I mean we, and you and you and you. Virtually everyone here had a hand in doing this, and we couldn't have done this without all of you."
Along with providing a home for LAFC and a venue for other soccer matches there will be concerts, sports and entertainment and dozens of other events filling out the calendar year. There were plenty of heavy hitters at the podium, extolling the virtues of the city and the 22,000-seat stadium: Peter Guber, Executive Chairman and Co-Owner; Larry Berg, Lead Managing Owner; Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer; and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
"We couldn't have this conversation without Don Garber, who has been the Commissioner for 20 years," said Guber. "We wouldn't be at this location if Don Garber didn't say: "This is where you got to go. You've got to be of the City, in the center of the City, in the heart of the City. You've got to be urban."
Berg on his partners: "We certainly couldn't have done this without my co-managing owners, Bennett Rosenthal and Brandon Beck."
"We couldn't have done this without our founding corporate partners: Banc of California, YouTube TV, Kaiser Permanente, Delta Air Mexico, Heineken, Toyota and many other corporate partners."
"It is really one of the more remarkable achievements in professional sports, not just in soccer," noted MLS Commissioner Garber, while emphasizing that the project took only 18 months to complete.
"The vision and passion of our ownership group... that believe that we can be a lead for a new America, for a country that's very young. It's very diverse, it's very global, and fits perfectly for the character of what soccer can and what it is going to be in the years to come."
Mayor Garcetti rallied the audience: "At a time when we need a place where everybody belongs, everybody belongs in L.A. and everybody belongs at LAFC. We are LAFC. Somos LAFC. Bienvenidos, felicidades. Let's go win!"
Also representing the 30 co-owners at the dais as well as athletes everywhere: Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Mia Hamm Garciaparra and Nomar Garciaparra. Local civic leaders included Mark Ridley-Thomas – L.A. County Board of Supervisors, 2nd District; Curren Price, L.A. Councilmember – 9th District and Herb Wesson – L.A. City Councilmember, 10th District. LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley and Bishop David G. O'Connell - the Archdiocese of Los Angeles rounded out the program.
The ever-popular Magic then took the mic: "This is only a great city when everybody gets to participate. And we're standing here today because everybody got a chance to participate in building this beautiful stadium. And it's right in the heart of Los Angeles."
"It might be the only stadium in America that right across the street is affordable housing. That's truly a true blessing. (Applause) Oh yeah, we should clap for that. That means everybody gets to participate."
Ridley-Thomas spoke of economic opportunities: "Right here (in Los Angeles), sports represents 162,000 direct jobs. And this venue and all it represents will be a part of that, creating more economic prowess in this region. The County of Los Angeles is very proud to be home to this venue of 4,500 new jobs right here."
"What an incredible day, a day we've all been looking forward to," said U.S. soccer legend Mia Hamm Garciaparra. "This is an incredible stadium, an incredible venue. But it's been our fans and our supporters, that yes, we are in the heart of Los Angeles but you guys are the heartbeat. And that is what I cannot wait to feel, to hear, to experience on the day of our first match."
Councilmember Price proclaimed: "This is really a defining moment in the history of South L.A. and in our beloved city. The investment goes far beyond the investment of $350 million of private money, a state-of-the-art stadium with shops and restaurants."
"But I applaud the L.A. Football Club organization for remaining firmly committed in achieving a 40% local hire goal. That has directly impacted the families, neighbors and friends living here in South L.A. This is transforming the lives of everyday people."
Councilmember Wesson followed: "The thing that's real cool, it was just 18, 20 months ago we were a little bit south and this was a dream. We also in L.A have Hollywood. That's where dreams are born and that's where dreams come true. And there's a couple of kids right now kicking the hell out of a soccer ball into a wall... somewhere dreaming of one day playing in this stadium as a professional."
SoCal local and former Dodger Garciaparra: "For me personally what makes this day so special and come true is that I was exactly like those kids Herb was talking about. I was the one kicking the ball against the wall. I was the one hoping to play in a venue like this. I was the one who was right there at the Coliseum at eight years old playing at halftime in major league professional soccer games. I was that little kid."
Then Coach Bradley took the stage accompanied by spirited LAFC fan chants: "Bob the Builder, Can we Build it? Bob the Builder, Yes we can!" Bradley: "When the team walks on the field there must be passion, there must be heart, there must be perspective... And you think about who made that happen."
"So now we get the chance, the opportunity to do it at Banc of California Stadium for everyone who's been a part of it. It's our house and together we're LAFC."
Bishop O'Connell blessed the gathering: "We want to see ourselves a new way, that there's something new possible here in the world which we live right now... We can come together and have a vision for our city and especially for our young people that we can give them a great future."
The show wrapped up with all the speakers standing together holding a ceremonial rope, while a large golden ribbon dropped from above, following the customary countdown. A landmark day celebrating soccer, community and progress in the City of Angels