Boomtown Brewery in Los Angeles was the place to be on Saturday, as hundreds of Los Angeles Football Club supporters and staff members met up for the second Black & Gold Rally. This second event, which the organizers said featured substantially more attendees, also included a special guest — LAFC lead managing owner Larry Berg.
Berg, who took over the mantle as the lead owner of the club in the summer, spoke to the crowd during the rally, asking for the supporters to serenade his wife (which they dutifully did), mentioning an upcoming trip to Columbus to watch the U.S. and Mexico square off in World Cup qualifying, and asking those in attendance to watch Sunday’s MLS playoff games. When a few groans started to emanate from the crowd at that comment, Berg dropped the punchline: “We’ll be there in two years.” The crowd erupted joyfully.
Angels on Parade had an exclusive opportunity to speak to Berg at the event, after he poured beers for attendees. Given the cheerful nature of the social event, he was in good spirits.
“For me it’s been a blast. We have a great management team and they’ve done a fantastic job with the brand and the stadium, operations, marketing, etc. So for me it’s just been a lot of fun and like I said, I love the town, I love the sport, so it’s just a good time.”
The big project, among many, for LAFC is the stadium project. Berg provided a promising update on how the hands-on work is going.
“So far so good,” he said. “We’re about a week ahead as far as the demolition goes. Every day counts and it was nice to see the demolition go a little faster than expected. So it puts us a little bit ahead, but we have a long way to go.”
He also expressed considerable excitement about the project, taking place on the site where the Sports Arena formerly sat, the location in the city, and the ambition of this stadium compared to others in MLS.
“It’s pretty amazing. The Sports Arena has been there since the ‘60s, and to watch it come down is really bittersweet. But Exposition Park is a fantastic place, I think it’s going to continue to grow, next to the Coliseum, and I think the renderings are fantastic.
“We’ll have, by far, in my opinion, the best stadium in MLS. So I’m very proud of that. And I think the fans are going to love it. I think the location’s terrific. So now we just gotta get it up on time and on budget, and field a team.”
As supporters sang and played drums in the background, Berg explained the appeal of soccer to him, and what has gotten him interested in creating a soccer club.
“I’m excited about the community, the idea to bring folks together who all love the game, all love Los Angeles. Soccer is a community sport – it’s meant to be watched together. And so to have a place to go and to have these kind of events where everyone has a shared passion, that’s what I’m excited about.”
The excitement at the event was palpable, and while LAFC may not yet have a team to watch, events like the Black & Gold Rally could help foster a sense of community that could very well turn out to be special, now and into the future. Time will tell.
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