LAFC breaks ground on its new MLS stadium, announces naming rights
MLS expansion club Los Angeles FC broke ground on its new stadium Tuesday, starting the process of building its home venue for the franchise's inaugural 2018 season.
New co-managing owner Bennett Rosenthal unveiled new renderings and the name for Banc of California Stadium at the L.A. Sports Arena site of the eventual 22,000-seat soccer-specific stadium and surrounding entertainment center. According to Bloomberg, the rights deal is for $100 million over 15 years ($6.7 million per year).
"We will erect the cathedral of soccer in America right here on this land," LAFC part-owner Tom Penn said at the ceremony.
MLS commissioner Don Garber attended the event, as well as LAFC part-owners Will Ferrell and Magic Johnson, who are among a star-laden 27-person ownership group.
LAFC has undergone a bit of a change in its vast ownership structure, with Larry Berg, Rosenthal and Brandon Beck taking over the majority roles. According to SI.com's Brian Straus:
Henry Nguyen, the Vietnamese-American businessman who spearheaded LAFC’s founding, is scheduled to be there as work on the former Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena site. But he no longer will be the club’s majority owner.
Sources have confirmed to SI.com key components of a recent Bloomberg report indicating that Nguyen now is a minority investor in a consortium led by Larry Berg, Bennett Rosenthal and video game entrepreneur Brandon Beck. Nguyen apparently has stepped back in order to focus on his businesses in Vietnam. Berg, now LAFC’s lead owner, is the Apollo Global Management executive who brought actor Will Ferrell aboard as a minority stakeholder.
Straus also reports that LAFC is looking to affiliate and partner with (or fully purchase) USL's Orange County Blues. The Orange County Register reported last month that LAFC is eyeing Tustin, which is just north of the UC Irvine site where the Blues currently play, as the site for a training center, field complex and 5,000-8,000 seat stadium.
LAFC is slated to join the league along with David Beckham's Miami franchise in two years as MLS's 23rd and 24th teams. MLS confirmed Friday that Minnesota United FC will be joining along with Atlanta United FC in 2017.