Orange County SC are getting ready to prepare for contingency plans regarding their home stadium in 2023, after receiving word from Irvine City Manager Oliver Chi that he “can’t guarantee [Championship Soccer Stadium] will be available for OC Soccer Club’s use for the 2023 season.”
As was revealed last month, the LA Galaxy have proposed to take exclusive control of the stadium starting next season for their LA Galaxy II team, which will be moving to MLS Next Pro next year, no longer in Orange County SC’s USL Championship circuit. As part of the proposal, the Galaxy organization have proposed effectively evicting all other adult teams currently using the facility, including OCSC, the defending USL Championship title-holders, who have played at the stadium since it opened in 2017. While the Galaxy walked back a hard line allegedly taken behind the scenes with their only public statement to date on the topic, saying they want to work collaboratively on a solution and do not want to evict any teams, it appears the City of Irvine is keen to go with the Galaxy and kick out the other tenants at the stadium.
Arizona-based reporter Owain Evans acquired information on the matter and revealed it over the weekend, indicating the proposal from the Galaxy was connected to a desire for Irvine to rent out Orange County Great Park space to teams playing at the 2026 World Cup, and the local LA hosting committee being chaired by none other than Galaxy president Chris Klein. Furthermore, this arrangement has been in the works dating back to April, although Orange County SC claim they only heard about any of it this summer, while they say they believed they were engaged in negotiations to return to the stadium next season.
A month ago, we saw LA Galaxy's attempt to move its reserves to Orange County, which could have forced @orangecountysc from its home.— Owain Evans (@ojevans18) September 3, 2022
Now, emails and texts obtained from the City of Irvine show discussions on this between LAG and Irvine were taking place from at least April pic.twitter.com/8SZnaLJUc4
With the City of Irvine, and Chi in particular, publicly appearing to favor the Galaxy’s proposal and kicking out Orange County SC and other current tenants, OCSC announced on Wednesday they need a definitive answer from the city in order to make plans for the 2023 season.
To date, despite multiple requests to meet and/or for the City to provide clarity and certainty about its intent to allow OCSC to continue to play its games in Irvine, OCSC has only received a single formal communication from the City.
...We have tried and failed to get clarification from the City Council as to whether the above message [from Chi] is the official policy of the City of Irvine, so we now have to assume that unless we hear from the City Council soon, the City of Irvine has made the determination that our days at the stadium are numbered.
The time has now come for the Irvine City Council to a make a final decision as to whether OCSC will be provided with the clarity and certainty it needs to operate at Championship Soccer Stadium next season and beyond, or not. We need to know now in order to plan for the 2023 USL Season.
In the meantime, Orange County SC are once again urging fans of the team and those interested in this situation on OCSC’s behalf to reach out to Irvine’s elected representatives to share your input about the situation (on a respectful basis, of course). The next Irvine City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 4 pm PT, and those who want to support Orange County SC are asked to attend and make their voices heard, as it could be the last opportunity to put pressure on the elected officials to reverse what appears to be the current course regarding the future of Championship Soccer Stadium.
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