One of the biggest questions surrounding Los Angeles FC, the new MLS team announced on Thursday, was where the team will play and when the stadium will be built. Given the inability of the club in LA that just folded to find any traction for a permanent stadium, there are concerns that the new group may be taking on a task that is much bigger than they anticipate.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the enthusiasm for the new project on Thursday, the owners were upbeat about making a permanent home for LAFC a reality in a relatively short period of time.
When asked when plans would get underway to find the stadium site and get the process started in earnest, co-owner and executive chairman Henry Nguyen told reporters during the unveiling event in Hollywood, "That's what we're going to embark on tomorrow in earnest. Today was our coming out, our hello. We want to meet the leaders of all the different areas in the greater Los Angeles market, that have the potential to really have the type of infrastructure to support a 25,000 seat soccer-specific stadium."
Co-owner and president Tom Penn also spoke to reporters about that search in more detail.
"[The search for a stadium site] is front and center right now, figuring out the 'where,'" he said.
And given the volume with which the date "2017" was said during the event, it seems clear the timetable is fairly set for the moment.
"[Starting play in MLS in 2017 in the team's own stadium is] the goal, and that's an aggressive timeframe here, we know," Penn acknowledged. "But we've got some horsepower behind us."
When asked if there were already designs for the new stadium, Penn responded, "Nope. Come on, it's a little quick for that! (Laughs)"
But perhaps the biggest tidbits about the stadium project for LAFC came regarding the funding committed and the amount projected, while discussing the possibilities of the location itself, whenever it is selected and purchased.
"In terms of scale, we've talked about anything from 15 to 100 acres. Frequently, you'll see development projects that will be on a grander scale than just the stadium itself, so we're open to that," Penn said.
"We're targeting something in the mid-20,000s of capacity, because more intimate works right now, which you have to think about scalability for the future as the sport evolves. And then we're going to spend at least $150 million. We'll get the ball rolling as soon as we can find the right spot."
And will they be looking for public funding, in an area of the country notoriously averse to paying for stadiums? It doesn't appear to be the case.
"Here's the other thing: We're fully funded. We've got all the money we need to build it, which you don't often hear said in these kind of civic projects. So we'll build something for our fanbase, for all of our constituents, that really could be timeless. We're looking for something somewhere special that's going to mean something to this community," Penn explained.
And the general location? There was one term used again and again on Thursday, by many of the owners: "Greater Los Angeles market."
Regarding questions of what will happen if the stadium can't be built in time to begin play there in 2017, Penn did not confirm Taylor Twellman's report on Wednesday that the LA Coliseum would be the temporary site for the team, instead refusing to name any potential temporary locations publicly, though he did grant the possibility that it could be necessary: "We'll go to contingency plans when it's appropriate. I can't answer that now, because we're not there yet. We're focused on 2017, bringing a new club in then, in a new stadium."
As for inspirations for the new stadium, Penn and Nguyen specifically singled out Portland's Providence Park, and the stadium experience there.
"I love going to Providence Park," Nguyen said. "I don't know if it's Timbers Army, but what they've done there, in just the setting, how they've really built their club seats, but...actually, I'll probably say it's Timbers Army. But that's a fantastic place to watch a match."
So given the realities of the region, and the time and money involved in building a stadium in less than two and a half years in the LA region, is the new LAFC ownership group rushing into something they're not prepared for?
Nguyen acknowledged the road ahead, but emphasized his belief in the ownership group's ability to come together to get a monumental task done.
"Look, we know it's not going to be easy," he said. "There's going to be a lot of challenges and roadblocks along the way. But we're ready to face those challenges.
"With the ownership group we have, the collective experience we have, even in this specific type of work, I'm very confident we're going to be able to meet those kind of challenges."
Thanks to Josie Becker and Ryan Rosenblatt, who contributed reporting to this article.
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