LAFC: Paying Tribute to Troy

Well, there are couple of ways LAFC's stadium announcement this week could end up going.

(1) Out of nowhere, LAFC has gone from a cattle call of tone-deaf ineptitude to pulling off one of the great sports coups in recent history.  LAFC is now a force to reckoned with on the American sports landscape, not just in MLS.

(2) The other shoe is going to drop on this like an extinction-level event.

I'm not prepared to live in a world where (1) might be the case, but I'm afraid we can't rule it out. 

This isn't the first time, and won't be the last time, that Don Garber and several other starry-eyed real estate mavens have presented us with a cartoon of a soccer stadium and asked us to take a voyage on the Starship of the Imagination.  By the way, I've often thought there should be an exhibition of Great Soccer Stadium Renderings Throughout History, but I realized that no man-made building could hold that many pictures. Until a shovel hits the dirt, it's basically hot air and murdered electrons.

And this is LAFC we're talking about.  An ownership group that reads more like a list of emergency substitutes for "Hollywood Squares" is going to do something useful with the LA Sports Arena site?  Admittedly, a smoking crater would be an upgrade at this point - and LAFC seems like exactly the people to provide one.

I was also malexcited to note that among the many luminaries present at the announcement, apparently no one was present representing the University of Southern California - the entity that now controls the Coliseum complex.  LAFC announced a "preliminary agreement" with USC, which could mean literally anything, or nothing.

At the time of the announcement, the Coliseum website had not troubled itself with the news, preferring to focus on the upcoming Los Angeles Temptation season.  They have since posted their own press release, and, well, if anything it's a bit wistful:

"....But change and opportunity are inevitable in a day, an age, and an industry that must reinvent itself. The University of Southern California, managing the Sports Arena on behalf of the Coliseum Commission, has entered into negotiations with the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) to have LAFC build a modern, 22,000 seat, state-of-the-art soccer stadium on the Arena site, as the future home of a Major League Soccer franchise.

....

In light of the current negotiations, the Sports Arena is currently taking booking inquiries only through February 2016; as the process for developing the LAFC soccer stadium plays out, we will update this date accordingly."

But USC does seem to be on board with the idea.  Joe Furin, General Manager of the Coliseum and Sports Arena, clarified the University's role in the proposed stadium:

"The Coliseum Commission (made up of City, County and State representatives) was formed in 1945 to manage on behalf of the State, the Coliseum property and land, and also the Arena property and land when the Arena was built in 1959…

 In 2013, the University signed a long-term lease (98 years, through 2111) with the Commission and the State to manage the properties and the land.

 So, the University is entering into a land-lease agreement with LAFC; USC’s relationship to LAFC would be one of landlord/tenant."

And, in Jeff Carlisle's article, LAFC's Tom Penn declarified things further:

"Team president Tom Penn explained that the club's lease agreement with USC is for 98 years and 'is the equivalent of ownership.'

'We control 100 percent of what happens on that land, we control 100 percent of the revenues, we take on 100 percent of the risk associated with it,' he said.

Penn added that USC would have some access to the stadium for some varsity women's sports."

Furin and Penn seem to have somewhat differing views on who has final say on what - and, since Penn's statement is internally inconsistent (if USC has access to the stadium for its sports, how is that 100% control?  Would LAFC get the revenues from parking for USC events?), one imagines USC has retained quite a bit of control over this project.  Which is all well and good, until LAFC decides it would like to schedule home games in September, October and November while the USC football team is in town.

It also seems like USC believes the process has barely begun, while LAFC is acting like it's all over but the Messi signing.

But this is a good deal farther than I, for one, imagined LAFC getting with state, city, county, and university.  Maybe next they'll do something even more amazing, like come up with an advertising campaign that doesn't involve putting a red filter over Portland Timbers fans.

In other news, MLS and David Beckham's non-existent team in Miami now has to compete with a non-existent NASL team.  The situation in Miami is quite a problem.  But, and this is something for which I thank the Lord every day, it is not my problem.