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L.A. Football Club has deadlines to meet in order to open stadium on time

Parents watch from the stands as children work on drills at a Los Angeles Football Club soccer academy practice at Cal State L.A. on Feb. 29.

Parents watch from the stands as children work on drills at a Los Angeles Football Club soccer academy practice at Cal State L.A. on Feb. 29.

(Michael Owen Baker / Michael Owen Baker / For The Tim)

The fledgling Los Angeles Football Club says it needs one more stamp of approval from the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s signature before the Major League Soccer expansion team can begin building its planned $250-million soccer stadium in Exposition Park.

But with the project now caught in some minor bureaucratic red tape, MLS Commissioner Don Garber has begun wondering whether there’s enough time to finish the stadium before the team’s scheduled home opener in March 2018.

“Whether they open up in that building is still to be seen,” Garber told a group of sports editors Thursday. “That’s the goal. [But] we’ve opened up almost all of our buildings later than the opening day.

“And nobody remembers that. I do. We’ve done that in … almost every soccer stadium we’ve opened.”

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LAFC President Tom Penn said he remains confident his team’s stadium will be done on time despite a recent snag. At a meeting this month, the city’s Planning and Land Use Committee approved the project unanimously but asked that some revisions to the project be addressed before it seeks approval from the full City Council early next month.

The revisions are considered minor but until they are approved construction work, which includes razing the 56-year-old Sports Arena, can’t begin.

“We’re still on track on the approval process,” Penn said. “We’ve had great public and political support. And we anticipate being before the City Council in the very near future.”

Garber said the league, which is also monitoring a proposed MLS stadium in Miami, isn’t looking into contingency plans in either city just yet. But he suggested there is little room for a delay in construction, which is scheduled to start this summer.

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“We have to get very, very focused on deadlines,” he said. “They have to do everything they can to beat those deadlines. But you can’t do things to beat a deadline that aren’t going to be right for the rest of the time.”

john.cherwa@latimes.com

kevin.baxter@latimes.com


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