New $250 million pro soccer stadium proposed for downtown Los Angeles

Reuters News
Posted: May 18, 2015 5:55 PM

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The new Major League Soccer club coming to Los Angeles unveiled plans on Monday to build a $250 million downtown stadium for the team that could mark the first open-air professional sports arena in the city since baseball's Dodger Stadium in 1962.

The MLS expansion franchise, due to launch its inaugural season in 2018 and currently known under the working name of the Los Angeles Football Club, said the proposed 22,000-seat facility would also rank as the most costly privately financed soccer-specific stadium in the United States.

The project would be financed by the team, whose ownership group includes basketball Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson, U.S. soccer great Mia Hamm, motivational speaker Tony Robbins and Vietnamese-American venture capitalist Henry Nguyen.

The team replaces the now-defunct Chivas USA and will compete for fan support against the four-time MLS champion L.A. Galaxy, which plays at the StubHub Center in nearby Carson.

Carson's City Council last month approved a separate plan to build a $1.7 billion, 70,000-seat National Football League stadium to accommodate a proposed return of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders to the Los Angeles area.

In a bid to keep the Chargers in San Diego, meanwhile, a municipal advisory group presented its own plan on Monday to finance a new $1.1 billion multipurpose arena on the site of their current antiquated home, Qualcomm Stadium.

That plan calls for over a dozen funding sources, including $300 million from the Chargers, $200 million from the NFL, $173 million in capital bonds and $100 million through fans' advance purchase of personal seat licenses.

Supporters say no tax hikes would be necessary.

Plans for the soccer stadium call for it to be built adjacent to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park on the site of the 56-year-old L.A. Memorial Sports Arena, which will be demolished.

The old arena has hosted a number of Los Angeles' professional basketball and hockey teams over the years and was the home court for the city's college basketball teams.

As designed, the new soccer stadium would also encompass restaurants, office space, a conference center and a soccer museum. The franchise said the development, when completed, would generate at least 1,800 full-time jobs and $2.5 million in annual tax revenue.

The project remains subject to environmental reviews, City Council approval and infrastructure improvements. The club hopes to break ground in about a year, a spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Eric Beech)