The Los Angeles Football Club’s new home is a pit.
But just give it time. Because in 16 months, the massive hole next to the L.A. Coliseum will be the site of Major League Soccer’s most expensive and luxurious soccer-specific venue. The 22,000-seat Banc of California Stadium will be the centerpiece of a $350-million complex that will also include more than 100,000 square feet of restaurant, retail and office space on the southeast corner of Exposition Park, where the Sports Arena once stood.
LAFC doesn’t have a coach, any players or even a permanent practice facility. But just two years after the team paid a record $110-million expansion to join MLS, the club’s new stadium is taking shape and more than 10,000 fans have already made $50 season-ticket deposits for its first season, which will begin in March 2018.
LAFC’s goal is to reach 15,000 deposits.
The Galaxy, Southern California’s other MLS team, said it sold about 11,500 season tickets this season at the 27,000-seat StubHub Center.
“If we look back at the beginning, we spoke of making history here in the heart of L.A.,” said Tom Penn, LAFC’s president and a co-owner of the franchise. “And now today, two years later, we have several major milestones to add to our story. Our arena demolition is completed, stadium construction is underway, and we have over 10,000 season ticket deposits sold.”
When it’s finished, Banc of California Stadium will be the first open-air home for a professional sports team built in Los Angeles since Dodger Stadium opened in 1962. The state-of-the-art facility will feature seats as close as 12 feet from the touchline; no seat will be more than 135 feet from the field, which will sit well below street level and about 20 feet lower than the Sports Arena’s basketball floor. The stadium will also feature a rooftop deck and a nightclub.
The facility was designed by Gensler, a Los Angeles-based architectural firm that recently renovated FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland and helped plan Sao Paulo's Arena Corinthians, which hosted the opening match of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
At the moment, however, the 15-acre site is a sprawling dirt lot crowded with huge piles of concrete, rebar and asphalt and a convoy of scrapers, front loaders and water trucks. The final four pillars of the 57-year-old Sports Arena were removed last week, completing the two-month demolition a week ahead of schedule.
“A day ahead is huge in construction,” Brenda Bolor, the field engineer for PCL Construction, the project’s general contractor, said Wednesday.
For the next two months crews of about two dozen workers, toiling seven days a week, will focus on earth moving, grading and shoring up the site, said PCL’s Cole Mattess.
“It’s changing daily as far as the appearance,” said Mattess as graders and other heavy equipment raced about behind him. (The club has a stadium cam that shows a live stream of construction.)
The work crew is also harvesting 30,000 tons of concrete from the Sports Arena demolition and recycling it on site, where it will be broken down and a portion reused in the new construction, assuring a part of the Sports Arena will always be part of the new stadium.
The construction phase is expected to begin early next year.