Sports Arena site apparent front-runner for home of new MLS team

Proposals for a new MLS stadium include possibly building it on the site of Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena

Southern California’s second Major League Soccer team hasn’t committed to a name or a color scheme yet. But it is moving closer to selecting its new home.

Tom Penn, president of the fledgling Los Angeles Football Club, said Saturday that the team asked five design firms to submit stadium proposals using Exposition Park and the spot occupied by the Sports Arena as a “hypothetical” location.

But the location appears to be much more than hypothetical. Seventeen months ago, when USC was granted control over the Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena, the school immediately announced its intentions to tear down the arena and construct an MLS stadium in its place.

LAFC, which said it wants to spend upwards of $150 million on a state-of-the-art soccer-specific stadium with a capacity of around 25,000, last month selected Southern California-based architects with Gensler to build that stadium based on their Exposition Park plans.  (Drawings for a competing Exposition Park venue by the Venice-based firm Meis are available on the company’s website.)

However, Penn cautioned Saturday that no decisions have been finalized.

“We have not selected a site,” he wrote in an email. “We are in discussions with several people regarding multiple locations.”

The team could not more specific, he said, “in light of our active discussions.” But discussions regarding the Sports Arena site are said to be  advanced.

The Sports Arena location, close to downtown access by public transportation, has long been a favorite location of MLS Commissioner Don Garber. With Garber’s support. Chivas USA was in negotiations to move there from the StubHub Center in Carson before the financially  troubled team was disbanded last fall.

MLS then sold the rights to a second Southern California franchise to a consortium of 22 owners – headed by Penn, Vietnamese American investor Henry Nguyen and Dodgers co-owners Peter Guber and Magic Johnson -- for $110 million last November. The team is scheduled to begin play in 2017.

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