Los Angeles Football Club are about a year and a half from starting MLS play, if the 2018 estimate holds, and there’s a lot of work to be done in the meantime.
The stadium deal is done, but items like training facilities for the team have yet to be finalized, at least on a public level.
But that may be changing in the near future, as The Orange County Register reported on Tuesday that LAFC is looking to build their team headquarters, training facility and much more at a site in Tustin, on an 85-acre parcel owned at present by the Navy.
How much more? It sounds like essentially a mini LA Live/Disney Wide World of Sports mash-up, with sports fields, including baseball diamonds, sports medicine facilities, a field house, hotels, and off-field entertainment options of restaurants, stores and apartments.
And if that wasn’t enough, the proposal also reportedly includes a 5,000-8,000 seat stadium. Assuming that’s a soccer stadium, it might be a great place for a USL team, and perhaps a regular home for an NWSL team, too.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The proposal is public, but the article also notes the city of Tustin is dragging its feet in approving the deal. While they may have reason to do that, LAFC president Tom Penn is quoted in the story and this is not idle speculation. The team has a proposal to put down roots in Tustin.
Of course, going public may be a way of helping to grease the wheels in getting a deal done, as the story also notes there are other mooted sites LAFC is looking at in the meantime. As we know in big land deals in Southern California, you just never know how it’s going to shake out.
At the same time, if Tustin does become the home of LAFC except on game days, it raises some interesting questions. On one hand, building a complex of the scale and breadth they are proposing would certainly be a destination for many people in the region and beyond, as one imagines youth soccer tournaments, European teams coming on preseason tours to the U.S., and other events drawing people to Tustin. It may seem like a random spot in Orange County, but if they pull it off, it could be really something.
At the same time, if the club does not settle in Los Angeles full-time, that’s going to strike a blow to some extent for some folks in reference to the rhetoric that LAFC is different from the LA Galaxy because they will be in LA. Tustin is a good 40 miles from LAFC’s future stadium. Driving between those locations much of the time is long and deadlocked, but for most supporters, that will be essentially irrelevant, since they'll mostly or primarily be going to the stadium in Los Angeles to see the team.
Now, land in Los Angeles is scarce and expensive, more so than the rest of the LA region, so it’s not a surprise they may have to go outside the city limits to find the space to set up a complex. And maybe the ambition of their proposed complex is meant to sweeten the deal. But it’s likely to add to the layers of the rivalry between the two clubs if LAFC goes outside the city to build their training facilities.
At any rate, the proposal is just that at the moment, and while this may be the first indication of the next item to be checked off LAFC’s to-do list, we’ll have to see if the plan comes to fruition, when and where.
For now, how do you feel about the proposal? Leave a comment below!