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Is LAFC’s stadium going to be an LA 2024 Olympic soccer venue?

Tom Penn seems to hint that the team is willing to lend it for soccer purposes.

Courtesy of LAFC

One of the side topics mentioned more than once at Los Angeles Football Club’s groundbreaking of Banc of California Stadium on Tuesday was the quest to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Los Angeles.

Both Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and MLS Commissioner Don Garber brought up the building of the stadium as part of a larger civic push to bid for the 2024 games, as well as a potential U.S. bid for the 2026 World Cup, in their remarks to those in attendance.

But the LA 2024 official bid group, which includes LAFC co-owner Magic Johnson as vice chair, had initially proposed using LAFC’s stadium as an aquatics center for the Olympics, something that the initial bid book acknowledged would likely require considerable changes to the stadium that would last several months and would put LAFC out of their home during that time, left to use an alternate venue.

There has been no subsequent public chatter about what Banc of California Stadium would be used as if the Olympics were indeed awarded to Los Angeles, but LA 2024 chairman Casey Wasserman was quoted in a release put out by the group on LAFC’s stadium groundbreaking.

“On behalf of LA 2024, we are thrilled to welcome the newest addition to LA’s already existing abundance of world-class sports venues,” Wasserman said. “It’s thanks to projects like Banc of California Stadium that we would only need to build one new permanent venue should LA be awarded the honor of hosting the Games in 2024. LAFC’s new stadium will surely bolster downtown LA’s status as a destination for passionate sports fans, while offering LA 2024 a great venue for soccer and our plans to return the Games to Los Angeles.”

One last note on the Olympics speculation: During the groundbreaking event, LAFC president Tom Penn snuck in perhaps a key aside related to the Olympics in between introducing speakers onstage.

“This will be a soccer stadium for the Olympics, if all goes well,” he said. “How about that?”

Making the stadium an Olympics soccer venue would be logical, if unusual with most Olympics soccer venues scattered some distance away from the host city in most cases, such as the recent Rio Olympics, with soccer hosted all over Brazil. But it would also mean no need to convert the stadium and kick out the primary tenants for many months.

Time will tell, of course. Los Angeles needs to move along in the bid process and down the line, the city needs to actually win the bid from the International Olympic Committee, before any of these proposals become concrete plan. But Penn’s aside is the first public comment from an LAFC executive on how Banc of California Stadium could fit in the LA 2024 Olympics bid. Stay tuned on how the proposals may evolve.

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