Hoping to Get on Roll: South L.A.’s Sports Arena, which will be knocked down to make way for Los Angeles Football Club’s $250 million stadium and retail complex.

Hoping to Get on Roll: South L.A.’s Sports Arena, which will be knocked down to make way for Los Angeles Football Club’s $250 million stadium and retail complex. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

In two years, Los Angeles could have as many as three new sports teams.

While the arrival of the Los Angeles Rams in Inglewood and the possibility of the San Diego Chargers or Oakland Raiders joining them has garnered all the headlines, a third football franchise is quietly preparing for business: Los Angeles Football Club.

The Major League Soccer expansion franchise, sporting a roster of 25 co-owners, is building a $250 million complex in Exposition Park – the most expensive privately financed soccer facility in the country. Upon its completion in 2018, the complex will include restaurants, a soccer museum and, of course, a 22,000-seat stadium on the South L.A. site of what is now the Sports Arena adjacent to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the Rams will be playing until the Inglewood stadium is ready in 2019.

For comparison, the Inglewood complex, as drawn up, will cost $1.86 billion, seat more than 70,000 fans, feature a roof that doubles as the world’s largest electronic billboard as well as be part of a 300-acre site with homes, shops, restaurants and entertainment offerings for pre- and postgame festivities.

Both the Rams and LAFC are going through a similar preparatory process, according to one of the soccer team’s co-owners, Peter Guber, chief executive of Mandalay Entertainment and co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Golden State Warriors.

“We have the same problems, the same challenges, the same risks. It’s exactly the same,” said Guber. “The fans that measure their experience say, Was the parking good? Were the concessions good? Was the stadium up to date? Was the environment conducive to the best experience? That transcends size.”

For Guber, ensuring that fans enjoy their outing to see the team play matters most – and he’s confident that can be achieved without a National Football League-size bank account.

“You don’t say, That movie cost $100 million to make and that movie cost $25 million, so the $100 million one must be better,” said the former Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and chief executive. “It’s about experience.”

Guber said the relocation of an NFL team hasn’t changed LAFC’s calculus.

“They compete for attention from an audience for sure, whether it’s seats, eyeballs or sponsors,” he said. “But they’re not concentric circles. They have a great division of interest and I can’t imagine them both not being successful in this market.”

New era

But this won’t be the first time a new MLS franchise has attempted to make Los Angeles a two-team soccer market alongside the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Prev

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.