Los Angeles, CA
After Major League Soccer awarded Los Angeles an expansion franchise in 2014, the club quickly identified the area adjacent to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park as the site of its future soccer-specific home. Built on the former site of the Sports Arena, between the Coliseum and the 110 Freeway, the state-of-the-art facility is the first open-air sports stadium to open in Los Angeles since Dodger Stadium in 1962.
Banc of California Stadium opened its doors on April 29, 2018, for LAFC’s inaugural season. The stadium occupies 16 acres (6.47 hectares) within historic Exposition Park and is LEED certified. The total cost was $350 million.
The stadium’s 22,000-seat bowl is closer to the field than any other in MLS, and has expandability for special events. Fans enjoy a compelling experience for every price point, from field-level boxes, private suites, clubs, rooftop lounges, to a 360-degree concourse. The stadium anchors the larger complex in Exposition Park that includes a restaurant, food hall, team store, rentable private party terrace, and bar, further extending its use beyond game day with these ancillary elements. The new facility serves as an anchor and city catalyst, promoting economic development in the region. A total of 4,800 parking spaces are found on-site within the Park and adjacent lots are sufficient to accommodate a sold out event.
The stadium bills itself out as “The New Entertainment Icon in the Heart of Los Angeles” and can be used for a variety of entertainment events including concerts.
The closest seat will be 12 feet from the field; the farthest 135 feet away. The playing surface has 86,000 feet of Bermuda grass.
Studio-MLA led the design of the site by exploring the unique historic context of Exposition Park and the Memorial Coliseum. To accentuate the connection of this urban park into its surrounding neighbourhood they created distinctive edges for promenades, flexible plazas, and gardens. The series of entry plazas curates the arrival experience and contribute to the visual identity of the Stadium. The Northwest Plaza, which is the most proximate to the Memorial Coliseum provides a large flexible space for a variety of programmable events. The Stadium also includes a team store and new food commissary called Fields LA providing a distinctly Los Angeles-centric offering of food and beverage amenities year round and features a roof deck garden for additional event space and to enhance the game day experience.
Stadium features more than 15,000 sq. ft. of LED signage
It is also very technologically advanced, especially in the area of video content. More than 15,000 sq. ft. of LED signage adorns Banc of California Stadium controlled inside a press-level video-control room. LAFC splits its team-created content — live game follow, replays, player features — across the two main videoboards and leverages the field-side displays for sponsor activation. Five Grass Valley cameras capture content from high-mid, reverse-mid, high–end-zone, and two on-field locations. In addition, the team accesses eight cameras from the TV broadcaster (YouTube TV handles home local broadcasts).
One aspect that LAFC has excelled at is engaging with its supporters.
“We’re there to support the match but not overshadow it,” says Al Raitt, director, match day presentation, LAFC. “We want the fans to drive everything, and we’re there to support them. We’re all soccer fans; [we] know the game, want to grow that game in America, and, through match day, we think we can leverage technology to help support the supporter culture in a way that they drive a lot of what we do. It’s a unique take on game days that I don’t think anybody else has really done, especially here in L.A. We went about to set ourselves apart; we’re not trying to be the Lakers, the Clippers, the Kings, the Dodgers. We think we’re delivering a unique experience for soccer fans in this city.”
Raitt is responsible for overseeing the match-day presentation team, while Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment (“VWSE”) Productions is responsible for production of all video content and graphic elements. Mark Austin, manager, broadcast operations, VWSE Productions, plays an integral role, overseeing the Banc of California Stadium’s A/V infrastructure, which — in addition to the videoboards, control-room gear, and audio system — comprises 400+ Panasonic TVs connected via a YinzCam IPTV system.
More than anything, LAFC plans to continue cultivating its fanbase. The famed supporters section has room for 3,252 fans, giving rise to the name of the supporters’ union, The 3252. Throughout the first season, Raitt met with team supporters to discuss match-day presentation. He continues to keep the lines of communication open between his department and the fans to ensure that match-day entertainment keeps fans coming back to Banc of California, game after game. The 22,000-seat stadium’s bowl is the tightest to the pitch and the steepest cantilevered seating bowl in the MLS, with expandability for special events.
“The fan base is very loyal,” says Austin. “It almost feels like the team has been here a while because of that. The team has a very Los Angeles core to it. It feels local, and it feels real, and I like that. It has been a really nice energy here, and to build a loyal fan base, to drive that experience is really fun.”
The team created a list of benefits that include:
- Increase green and open spaces in the community;
- Explore feasibility of renewable energy, rainwater harvesting, and electric car charging stations;
- Adopt an integrated bike path plan adjacent to and on stadium premises in addition to coordinating with the City’s My Figueroa project to optimise bike access;
- Develop streetscapes and lighting in both Exposition Park
- Improve lighting and stadium adjacent infrastructure
- Aesthetic beautification of areas
- Increased security and safety of area through activities, lighted areas
- Significant increases to City, County and State tax revenue
- Supporting and Contributing to Programs that help youth