The Los Angeles City Council on Friday unanimously approved plans for a privately financed $250-million stadium in Exposition Park, clearing the way for the expansion Los Angeles Football Club to begin construction on the most expensive soccer-specific project in Major League Soccer history.
The 22,000-seat stadium will be the centerpiece of a 15-acre complex that will include a conference center, restaurants and a soccer museum. It will be built next to the Coliseum on the site of the 56-year-old Sports Arena, which held its final event in March.
“This is precious real estate and this is a precious place,” Tom Penn, LAFC’s president and the man who has been sheparding the project for the team, told the council. “The vision is to unite this diverse city around their love of the game…. We pledge a promise to do you proud.”
Construction, including the demolition of the Sports Arena, is scheduled to begin this summer with the target of getting the stadium finished in time for LAFC’s first home game in March 2018.
Three weeks ago MLS Commissioner Don Garber expressed concern with LAFC’s timeline, saying any delays could force the team to look for a temporary home for its opening game. Few of the league’s stadiums, Garber noted at the time, have opened on time.
LAFC’s facility will be the first open-air professional sports stadium built in the City of Los Angeles since Dodger Stadium, which played host to its first game in 1962.