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Watch: LAFC unveils Banc of California Stadium at ribbon cutting

The stars of LAFC’s ownership group came out in numbers for the ribbon-cutting at Banc of California stadium Wednesday as supporters, players and club employees gathered outside for the venue’s first official reveal. The event’s speakers included LAFC owners Mia Hamm and Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and MLS commissioner Don Garber.

One by one, each spoke to the heart of the LAFC fanbase, the dedication of the management group that brought the stadium together in record time and the success of the young team. Then, in a shower of sparks, head coach Bob Bradley counted down as the ribbon dropped and the front doors finally opened for business.

“Los Angeles is where championship dreams blossom into iconic superstars and legendary teams. That journey begins today for LAFC,” Garcetti said. “I’m proud to welcome our new team to this spectacular new stadium, where Angelenos can be a part of the next chapter in MLS history.”

As the team suited up and took to its home field for the first time, guests toured the stadium. It was designed by Gensler Sports and built by PCL Construction and Legends. The build took only 20 months to complete, a speedy process compared to similar endeavors, such Audi Field in Washington, D.C., which took over a decade to create.

Carlos Vela checks out the field in the team’s first practice at Banc of California Stadium. (Photo courtesy of LAFC)

Banc of California stadium also boasts a public plaza that will be outfitted with a center for restaurants and a retail store, which will be open year-round. The soccer-specific stadium will be used to host concerts and festivals as well, providing a unique events space to the downtown area that hasn’t yet existed before in Exposition Park. Additionally, it will be used as one of many venues vital to the 2028 Olympics.

However, the first and foremost goal of the stadium is to provide a unique and intimate fan experience from every seat in the arena. The $350 million investment includes 22,000 seats and 33 suites, including 10 field-level suites that allow members to have their feet on the grass during the match and interact with players before and after the game. The cornerstone of the fan experience, however, is the “North End,” the side of the stadium built as a secure standing space to pack a sea of supporters behind one goal.

Tickets in the North End will cost just $20, allowing fans from every walk of life to flood the section and create a raucous home-field advantage. The front row of this section will be positioned 12 feet away from the goal, and the stadium is built with a steep rake, allowing supporters to feel close to the action.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson laughs at a joke during the ribbon cutting ceremony for Banc of California Stadium. (Julia Poe/Pro Soccer USA)

“This is an incredible stadium,” LAFC owner and U.S. soccer legend Mia Hamm said. “It’s an incredible venue. But it’s our fans and our supporters — because yes, we are in the heart of Los Angeles, but you are the heartbeat. And I can’t wait to feel and to hear and to experience this on the day of our first match.”

But for District 9 in South Los Angeles, the presence of LAFC will be felt by more than just soccer fans in the neighborhood. The club is dedicated to bettering the community around it and helping the heart of the city to grow. As Garcetti pointed out, this is one of few urban stadiums in the state and the country that is built in a neighborhood of affordable housing. LAFC aims to keep this neighborhood affordable and to provide jobs, accessibility and support to its residents.

To achieve this, 40 percent of the workers who created the stadium were hired locally and 35 percent of all businesses employed and contracted were minority and women-run businesses. Workers were all unionized, and the stadium’s construction ultimately employed 3,000 people. Several of these employees were highlighted at the event — locals given second chances and work opportunities otherwise inaccessible in South Central.

“It’s been incredibly exciting for me and my constituents to drive past Expo Park and see this marvelous soccer stadium rise from the rubble,” said Councilman Curren Price, the representative for District 9. “This is a defining moment in the history of South Los Angeles, and now it’s finally here. Banc of California Stadium will be a critical piece of the local economy and is a representation of the promising future of our community.” 

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