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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Inside LAFC’s Sparkling New Home

Photo by LAFC

The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) introduced 22,000 fans to its new pitch Sunday night. In their first-ever home game, LAFC faced the Seattle Sounders in a game that felt bigger than any traditional regular season matchup.

On opening night, MLS Commissioner Don Garber was on hand and spoke about the new facility.

“Today is one of those great moments. It’s incredible how quickly things came together. From the time I met (owners) Peter Guber and Tom Penn, now seeing the stadium today with this crowd it’s truly wonderful.”

“I try to think about where we were with Chivas USA in 2005. That was our first round of expansion and it was going to be the new era for Major League Soccer. Obviously, that wasn’t a success. Sometimes out of failure comes great strength and we’re focused and committed on a good endgame,” said Garber.

Earlier in the week, media were given an exclusive tour of the shiny new digs at BOC Stadium.

Located in Exposition Park in downtown Los Angeles the stadium is adjacent to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, home to USC Trojans football and the temporary field for the NFL’s L.A. Rams.

The project came to fruition in no time. Breaking ground on Aug. 23rd 2016, twenty-months later its doors opened in Southern California.

A startling fact, BOC is the first open-air stadium built in the city of Los Angeles since Dodger Stadium, circa 1962.

Leading the tour was Jonathan Emmett, a veteran architect and design specialist in the sports industry.

As Principal and Design Director of the Gensler Sports Practice, Jonathan Emmett has spent the majority of his 20-year career focusing on the design of prominent professional and collegiate sports venues and sports-anchored developments, both in the United States and worldwide.

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His latest endeavor is the $350 million privately funded Banc of California Stadium project. It’s the most expensive stadium in MLS history and was completed a month ahead of schedule.

“This is really going to set a new standard for the MLS,” Emmett said. “And a lot of this really comes from the building being built at this particular time in Los Angeles.”

City views of the downtown skyscrapers are clearly visible and were incorporated into the design.

“We really tried to embody the vision set forth by the ownership group of being of Los Angeles and for Los Angeles,” Emmett said. “It’s those little glimpses that tie this venue back to the city and really kind of create that very real and tangible connection back to the skyline that will help define the venue.”

By the numbers:

  • 22,000 seating capacity
  • Single-game tickets range from $20 to $155
  • 5 million pounds of steel was used during construction
  • 5% of parking spaces have EV charging stations
  • 125,000 sq. ft. of walkways and plazas open to the public
  • 140,000 sq. ft. of improved public open space
  • 1,200 new construction jobs that will be both union and local
  • 1,800 new full-time permanent operations jobs
  • $350 million in development in South Los Angeles
  • $275 million in one-time construction total economic output
  • $2.5 million in annual tax revenue from new stadium operations

Highlights from the stadium tour included:

Field suites – Only sitting 12-feet away from the touchline. These are the closest seats of any MLS stadium.

Pitch – Made with 86,000 sq. ft. of Bermuda grass. It offers top-notch draining for the sprinkler system and in the rare case of SoCal rain. No tarps are required to keep the grass intact.

Sunset Deck – A party-like atmosphere located on the top level features a bar, plush cabanas, and a small pool. It creates a unique outdoor experience.

Directors Club – A private area for owners and VIP guests. The lounge offers pristine food and drinks from local chefs and quick access to field level seating.

3252 – Inspired by European clubs, this is the number of seats in the standing room only supporter’s section found in the North end.

34 degrees – Seating will be among the steepest in MLS and every seat is within 135 feet of the pitch.

Mobilitie Wireless Network – The 25-zone DAS network includes 160 antennas and over 7 miles of cabling, enabling nearly 1.5 million square feet of wireless coverage throughout the seating areas, suites, concourses, and parking lots. The system employs a unique network layout for field-level coverage. This configuration provides increased upload and download speeds, seamless connectivity, and improved reliability.

“From the start, our goal with Banc of California Stadium was to provide the best and most unique experience in sports for our fans and supporters,” LAFC Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer Larry Freedman said. “This is a world-class venue that incorporates innovative technologies to deliver a fast wireless network. Mobilitie has a strong track record of designing and installing wireless networks for professional sports stadiums and arenas, which made them the clear choice for our mobile network needs.”

Bicycle parking – 440 stations are available for public transit along with an extended Expo line.

A projected $129 million annually and $2.9 billion over the next 30 years of total economic output in the LA area will benefit from the new destination.

Concerts – The stadium is an entertainment hub and plans to host music are already in place. KIIS 102.7’s annual Wango Tango concert will be the first show, taking place in June.

Team App – Developed by Venuetize, the team is committing to delivering an innovative fan experience. LAFC’s home, Banc of California Stadium, is built to deliver unprecedented connectivity. Designed to offer an easy way for guests to interact with the stadium and the team, and personalize their experience both at games and throughout the year. The LAFC app will offer tickets, concession and merchandise sales as the season continues.

As for the game itself, LAFC team captain Laurent Ciman scored in the 93rd minute of stoppage time to break the scoreless tie and LA wound up victorious, 1-0.

With a 5-2 record, LAFC is off to the best start in MLS expansion team history.

In all, LAFC will host 18 home games this season, including a friendly versus German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund on May 22nd.

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