Only season-ticket holders can apply for admission to LAFC, Galaxy games
LAFC has set a deadline of 5 p.m. Thursday for season-ticket holders to apply for admission to the team’s April 17 MLS season opener, the first game to be played before fans at Banc of California Stadium in more than 13 months.
Fans who opt in for the ticket distribution will be assigned seats for the season opener and the April 24 home game with the Seattle Sounders based on their membership tenure, the team said in an email sent to its more than 17,000 season-ticket holders. Fans not selected for the first two games will have their place in the queue adjusted, increasing their chances of admission for subsequent games.
The Galaxy, who play their first home game April 25, already have allocated approximately 7,000 electronic tickets for that match to season-ticket members who participated in an online distribution.
LAFC has not determined how many fans will be allowed into its stadium. With Los Angeles County in the moderate or orange tier of color-coded COVID-19 restrictions, the team is allowed to fill a third of its 22,000-plus seats but because fans must also be socially distanced, attendance is likely to be capped at a much lower percentage.
“We don’t have a hard number yet,” said Seth Burton, LAFC’s vice president for communications and content. “We continue to work with public health officials to determine a safe number.”
Club spaces and suites also will be opened at limited capacity but tailgating or any gathering within Exposition Park is banned.
LAFC’s superstar Carlos Vela answers questions from L.A. Times soccer writer Kevin Baxter in a rare one-on-interview with the former MLS most valuable player.
Fans attending either of LAFC’s two April games will be required to wear a face mask, except when eating or drinking, and follow social-distancing guidelines. Movement on the concourse will be restricted to entering and leaving the stadium, access to the restrooms and food and beverage ordering and pickup at designated locations.
Food and beverages will be available by pre-order and transactions will be contactless and cashless through Apple Pay or similar apps. More than 100 public hand-sanitizing stations will be located throughout the stadium.
LAFC sold out all 39 of its MLS home games, including playoffs, before the coronavirus forced the team to play behind closed doors last season.
The Galaxy said its fans will be arranged in socially distanced “pods” of one to eight people at Dignity Health Sports Park for the home opener with the New York Red Bulls. The approximately 7,000 fans expected will be about 1,300 shy of the 33% limit allowed in the 25,174-seat stadium, but the team said squeezing more people in would violate social-distancing guidelines.
Galaxy President Chris Klein said the team is hoping it will be able to up the attendance for its May 8 home match with LAFC, the first of two home games in seven days. A COVID-19 surge, however, could knock L.A. County back into the more restrictive red tier, resulting in stricter attendance limits.
“After last year we’re preparing for anything,” Klein said. “Our hope is it continues to move in the right direction. If it does go in the other direction, we’ve learned to be adaptable. And we know our fans have learned to be adaptable.”
With a huge fan base and large stadiums north of the border, the Mexican national soccer team is happy to play again in the U.S. after a pandemic-caused hiatus.
Suites also will be open, with limited capacity, for the first game as will concession stands, though the team said it is awaiting more guidance from local health authorities on exactly how — and how many — stands will be allowed to operate.
Everyone entering the stadium will be required to wear a face mask except when eating or drinking. Hand-sanitizing stations will be located throughout the concourse and the stadium will be heavily marked with signage reminding people to keep their distance.
“We will be enforcing those rules,” Klein said.
The Galaxy played just one home game before spectators last season so the Red Bulls game, the first with fans in nearly 14 months, will be a homecoming for many.
“I can’t even put into words how excited we are,” Klein said. “To have our fans back, whether it was 10 fans, 100 fans, 1,000 or 10,000 fans, I mean the game literally doesn’t feel the same without them.
“It’s why our players play, it’s why we do what we do. So we are beyond excited to have our people back.”