News first broke out very much under the radar late Sunday (5/17/15) night… LAFC are planning on building a $250 million, 22,000 seat stadium on the decrepit site of the old Sports Arena in Exposition Park. The site is without a doubt prime location: just five minutes from the holy grail that is downtown, conveniently placed next to the 110 freeway, at an arms reach of Staples Center and Dodgers Stadium, etc. Like the surrender at Fort Sumter, LAFC have fired the first shot in what is sure to be a civil war of marvel proportions.
Media, league officials, and fans (who are these people? old Chivas fans?) alike gathered the following morning to hear the official announcement from the star studded ownership group which includes southland legends Magic Johnson, Nomar Garciaparra, and Mia Hamm. According to Johnson, the ownership group is "not only committed to creating a dynamic soccer experience for our fans, but are equally excited about the impact our stadium and facilities will have in reshaping and revitalizing South Los Angeles". The announcement sent social media into a frenzy about how the Galaxy’s Stub Hub Center pales in comparison, about how much deeper the pockets are for the new team, and how having a stadium in downtown is a bigger draw for fans and star players.
Perhaps more important than the stadium announcement is the fact that LAFC are beginning to prove that they mean business… they will spend, and spend, and spend to become a true global contender. Can you blame them? is there another alternative in trying to compete with arguably the gold standard of the league? probably not.
But, truth be told, the Galaxy are no financial slouches, and will, within reason (perhaps this being the key argument), spend as much as the possibly can as well. They are amongst the richest franchises in the league, and are widely considered the face of our league abroad. Combine that with the millions they’ve already spent over the off-season for a new video board, general stadium furnishings, and the "20 for Twenty" community service initiative this season; the LA Galaxy are working hard towards winning over the LA community.
The new lavish LAFC stadium would open its doors sometime in 2018, which makes the case all the more intriguing.
Grant Wahl of SI.com reported late last month that Cristiano Ronaldo has expressed interest in joining MLS after his contract with Real Madrid expires (as luck would have it in 2018) and, after some speculation, targeted LA as his preferred destination. Well, this puts only two teams in contention for the world’s greatest player. Would being the star of a brand new team in a brand new stadium sweeten the pot? It sure did in the case of Kaka in Orlando (a player we unsuccessfully pursued in past years).
Yes, the Galaxy do have a lengthy record of big name signings which is only growing with the imminent arrival of Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, but Cristiano Ronaldo would outrank the rest. He has won it all at the club level, individually and for the team. He is widely considered the most well rounded player and a gold scoring machine, but all those accolades did not come cheap. He was also the world’s most expensive soccer player from 2009-2013. His contract in 2018 is sure to demand a record breaking amount from MLS. Will the Galaxy out-auction their new cross town rivals?
LAFC might have more of an incentive to spend a ridiculous amount of money on the model/striker. Landing Ronaldo would certainly launch their brand and give them international notoriety much the same way as the Beckham signing did for the Galaxy in 2007. His appeal goes well beyond just soccer, with merchandise and ticket sales being almost guaranteed. For a new team trying to find an identity and trying to cut into a new market, perhaps no amount might seem to high for CR7.
For the Galaxy and club President Chris Klein meanwhile, the decision to spend on players comes down to philosophy. In an interview with Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano, Klein said "The things that we do as we build our team and we build our club in this city and community, we’ve had a specific goal. We want to win first, and win a certain way, with a certain group of players, and we’re going to continue to do that. We’re as aggressive as we’ve ever been in L.A. The ideals that we hold are ones that we’ve built over a long period of time, and those aren’t changing… We’re going full steam ahead"
Cristiano Ronaldo in the white and blue would make him arguably the biggest star in a Galaxy use to many stars. It would also continue to elevate our reputation, for as recognizable as the Galaxy are, they are still considered subpar internationally. A quick view of Ronaldo’s past transfers might also give us some hope of landing him since he has only gone to the biggest clubs in Europe. Wouldn't he then want to join the biggest club in MLS? seemingly a match made in soccer heaven.
We have championships (#firsttofive), an outstanding youth system, and a rich past to hang our hat on, not to mention the greatest coach in American soccer history. Our record since the arrival of the almighty Bruce in 2008 has been the envy of the league. The Big Kahuna is also leaving his mark at almost every level of the organization hiring former assistant coaches and players that share in his philosophy, the LA Galaxy and Bruce are one. Even if Bruce is not around come 2018, which is a real possibility, his imprint will still be very much alive. Not choosing the LA Galaxy might be Cristiano’s loss…
But, whether we get Ronaldo or not, WE ARE LA, and LAFC better get ready for a dogfight.