Los Angeles FC unveiled on Monday its plan to build a brand new, soccer-specific stadium five miles south of downtown LA. The stadium plans will reportedly be the first domino in a long line of major announcements to be made by the Major League Soccer expansion franchise in the coming weeks and months.
[ MORE: MLS to evaluate expansion beyond 24 teams — Where do they go? Where do they stop? ]
The $250-million venue, which is an increase of $100 million from what the group projected seven months ago, according to a Sunday report by the LA Times, will sit adjacent to the LA Memorial Coliseum, but will not be ready for LAFC to make its MLS debut until 2018, a year later than their original target date. Since the new stadium will be built on the site of the soon-to-be demolished old Sports Arena, the project will take longer to complete than the ownership group initially hoped.
On the bright side, LAFC will foot the entirety of the $250-million bill out of pocket, which is major sign of intent on top of the MLS-record $110 million expansion fee the group paid prior to having been awarded a franchise..
[ MORE: Garber to head to St. Louis to explore expansion potential ]
The land upon which the stadium will be built still has to be acquired by the ownership group, but the Times report stated that all parties were in general agreement that the infrequently-used Sports Arena needs to be demolished, and that a soccer stadium would be an ideal replacement project.
With LAFC’s MLS debut all but certain to be made in 2018, the Atlanta MLS expansion franchise, which will play in the Atlanta Falcons’ under-construction $1.4-billion stadium, look all but set to enter the league on their own in 2017. Unless, of course, Minnesota United FC navigate their own political land mine field and finish their stadium ahead of current projections. If not, all three could enter the league in 2018, bring the total number of teams to 24.
The yet unnamed MLS Atlanta club now has a technical director, as the club has hired former USMNT captain Carlos Bocanegra.
It’s a good move for the young club, which gains a respected and connected man. The 35-year-old defender has played admirably in Scotland, England, France and Spain in addition to Major League Soccer stints with Chicago Fire and Chivas USA.
[ MLS RUMORS: Balotelli to Orlando | Van der Vaert to KC ]
Bocanegra will work with MLS Atlanta president Darren Eales, who has worked with Premier League clubs West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur.
In his role as technical director, Bocanegra, together with Eales, will oversee day-to-day non-coaching soccer operations of the first team, including development and implementation of a worldwide scouting network and oversight of player wellness and rehabilitation. In addition, he will oversee youth academy programs and serve as a liaison with MLS league officials on player regulations and other league rules.
“I feel very fortunate to have played the game of soccer professionally for so many years and am excited to be part of something special here in Atlanta,” said Bocanegra. “I’ve always wanted to stay involved with soccer at the top level, and to have that opportunity with MLS Atlanta is a great way to start this next chapter. I’m a competitor and I look forward to bringing that drive and passion into everything I do here in Atlanta.”
The 110-times capped defender scored 14 goals for the Yanks. The fighting Bocas begin play in 2017.
Here’s a trio of interesting stadium stories from around MLS:
1) Arthur Blank gives soccer the honor
Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta MLS owner Arthur Blank is building a big, new, gorgeous stadium, and a whole bunch of folks help break ground on the facility on Monday (see above photo).
Blank is handing the honor of its first event to soccer.
2) DC United moves one step closer
It’s taken almost a year, but DC United and Buzzard Point officials have taken another step towards new digs.
From The Washington Post:
Nearly 10 months after announcing a tentative deal to build a 20,000-seat soccer stadium on Buzzard Point, District officials and D.C. United executives have nearly finalized an agreement, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
Despite months of delays and missed deadlines, the basic framework of the deal remains in place, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions have not been made public.
3) Port Miami takes a backseat
The Miami-Beckham Fabulous Hair FC will take its next steps to building their park right in the Miami Heat’s neighborhood, near American Airlines Arena. This is not the Port Miami site which was considered the prime candidate for a while, but met some consternation from outside interests.
Mike Hernandez, a spokesman for (Miami mayor) Gimenez, said PortMiami could still be considered if the boat slip site falls through.
“The PortMiami site isn’t necessarily off the table,” he said. “It’s just Plan B.”