By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Football Club will launch its inaugural season in Major League Soccer in 2018 after its new stadium has been built to replace the Los Angeles Sports Arena, the expansion franchise said on Monday.
The development, which will bring $250 million in private investments to South Los Angeles, will be anchored by a 22,000-seat state-of-the-art soccer venue in Exposition Park, covering 15 acres in the shadow of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and U.S. soccer great Mia Hamm Garciaparra were among the joint owners of the fledgling club who gathered at Exposition Park to make the announcement during an outdoor news conference.
"We are not only committed to creating a dynamic soccer experience for our fans, but are equally excited about the impact our stadium and facilities will have in re-shaping and revitalizing South Los Angeles," Johnson said in a statement.
The new team, whose name is likely to change after fan feedback, will compete with four-times MLS champion LA Galaxy club for support in the city.
The franchise was unveiled in October by a 22-person ownership group led by Vietnamese-American venture capitalist Henry Nguyen, Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber and former NBA executive turned television analyst Tom Penn.
“Los Angeles is a city famed for its creativity and innovation,” said Guber, who is executive chairman of the LAFC.
“In that tradition, we look forward to building a premier club, in a state-of-the-art stadium delivering a state-of-the-heart experience, and brining the world’s game to the City of Angels.”
The soccer stadium will be the first open-air professional sports venue to be built in Los Angeles since Dodger Stadium in 1962.
The Sports Arena, which opened in 1959, was the home venue for the Los Angeles Lakers (1960-1967) and the Clippers (1984-1999) of the NBA, and also the NHL's Los Angeles Kings during their inaugural 1967-68 season.
(Editing by Gene Cherry)