With Stan Kroenke’s recent purchase of a choice 60 acre plot of land in downtown Los Angeles, reports from Britain claim the Arsenal chief shareholder is set to create a sister team in Major League Soccer called the LA Gunners.
The theory is as follows – just before this year’s Super Bowl Kroenke purchased a parking lot sized space located between Hollywood Park and the Los Angeles Forum. Such prime real estate, combined with the fact that the stadium lease for the St. Louis Rams (who Kroenke owns) ends after the 2014 season, had the LA Times making the logical connection that the land could “potentially could be used for an NFL stadium.”
The foreseeability of Kroenke using the land to establish a new MLS side in LA, as the British tabloids would like us to believe, is considerably low for two main reasons. First, there are already two MLS clubs in the city, making three a crowd. Second, MLS has recently announced the expansion of the league to include New York City Football Club, Orlando City and David Beckham’s Miami club. Adding a fourth expansion side in such close temporal proximity would feel a bit aggressive and even if it gets down, Atlanta is currently the favorite to win that race.
Given these reasons – as well as the lack of quotes from anyone in Kroenke’s camp revealing even a mild interest in setting up a sister side in MLS – it’s highly likely the LA Gunner rumor is mere journalistic creativity of someone at the Sun connecting the dots and someone at the Metro getting on board. Quintessential British footy tabloid stuff.
Yet despite the barriers to entry and the story being pie in the sky, Kroenke setting up a sister club in LA is at least a possibility considering the rise of sister clubs (read: Manchester City’s plan for world domination) in burgeoning soccer markets.
But what about the practical issues at hand?
Chivas USA is the blight of MLS, a disgracefully run organization in dire need of a change of ownership. If Kroenke could work out a deal to purchase the club, this would overcome both the three-teams-in-LA issue and the expansion predicament.
Another option would be for Kroenke to rebrand the Colorado Rapids, his current stake in MLS, into the LA Gunners. Doing so, however, would fail to address the three-teams-in-LA issue all the while pissing off an important base of MLS supporters. A definitively less likely possibility
So for now the LA Gunners story should be taken with a grain of salt. Pure rumor. Speculation. Tea leaves. But discredit the rumor at your own peril because in the current wheeling-and-dealing world of MLS anything is possible.