Magic Johnson remembers when this place was just a pile of dirt.
“Look how far we’ve come from ground breaking,” Johnson said as he walked into a fully furnished suite inside Banc of California Stadium.
Just 18 months ago, there really was nothing but dirt. Johnson and his fellow LAFC owners donned hard hats and shovels to commemorate the groundbreaking of what would become LAFC’s soccer cathedral in the heart of Los Angeles.
On Wednesday, that cathedral, Banc of California Stadium, officially opened its doors.
“When I think about when we broke ground and it was nothing but dirt, and we had some shovels, we had to maneuver around everything,” Johnson said. “To see this beautiful stadium, a 22,000-seater, I think it’s the best stadium in all of MLS.”
Projects like this don’t normally happen in LA. Let alone for a soccer club.
With the unveiling of Banc of California Stadium, LAFC christened the first open-air stadium to be built in LA since Dodgers Stadium in 1962. Standing tall next to the historic LA Memorial Coliseum, host to two Olympic games and soon to be a third, the privately-funded stadium stands as a testament to a city built on dreams.
“You have the Black & Gold and the glitz and glam of Hollywood and Los Angeles. And then you walk around the stadium, you’ll see some of the clubs and suites change a little bit to reflect how diverse and multicultural our city is,” said Mia Hamm, two-time World Cup champion and fellow LAFC owner.
It’s that diversity LAFC and its owners are not only counting on, but banking on as well. At the Banc of California Stadium ribbon cutting ceremony, LAFC President Tom Penn announced the Club’s $4 million investment over seven years into initiatives and projects in the community surrounding the stadium.
As the new center of the community, Banc of California Stadium is the concrete embodiment of that commitment.
“To have it here, in this incredible community, and to be able to create so many job opportunities, is truly amazing,” Johnson said. “I think this stadium is going to do for this community what the Staples Center did for downtown LA. That’s how much of an impact it’s going to have.”
Open for business! pic.twitter.com/49ffZUuOR3— LAFC (@LAFC) April 18, 2018
Now officially in operation, Banc of California hosts its first match on April 29 as LAFC take on the Seattle Sounders. It’s a date the LAFC owners and MLS are expecting to hear some noise.
“People have already been talking about the Supporters that we have, it’s amazing. And we haven’t even played our first home game,” LAFC owner Nomar Garciaparra said. “They were talking about it even before we played our very first game in MLS, people were talking about the support has been unbelievable.
“But I think the stadium and location is a key part to that. It’s the heart of LA. And it’s going to take the heart of LA to continue the success."