Last night Los Angeles Football Club played their inaugural match at the sparkling new Banc of California Stadium inside Exposition Park. Hats off to our neighbors for building a proper footballing palace. (I’m not as sold on the marketing campaign, but they can’t all be winners)
I want LA to be the greatest soccer city in America. And I want it to be beyond debate. To do that, you need a real rivalry.— Andrew Schmidt (@AndrewSchmidtFC) April 30, 2018
This is a good start. #LAFCvSEA
As part of a LA Times special edition commemorating the occasion, the paper printed a neat visual history of the MLS venues that have sprung up over the years.
Despite the impressive number of arenas now dotting the landscape, its hard not to feel sentimental about LA’s original soccer venue. After all, America’s soccer cathedral has aged gracefully over the past 15 years.
Similar to the grand home of the Lakers and Kings for over three decades, the initially named Home Depot Center was a groundbreaking structure. The “Fabulous” Forum was the first indoor arena constructed without major support pillars, while the Rossetti-designed complex was billed as a jack-of-all-trades: A state of the art soccer specific stadium, concern venue, tennis and boxing arena, training facility, velodrome center, you name it. Both arenas were built-in-but-not-quite-LA with one located in Carson and the other in Inglewood.
After all these years, the picturesque open-air venue with the trademark palm trees and European style roof remains the largest soccer-specific stadium in America, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The StubHub Center might not be listed in the National Register of Historic Places like the Forum, but the stadium was featured in FIFA 17, which is basically the same thing.
Some argue it is what transpires inside an arena that counts. For most of its history the StubHub Center has been a fortress for the LA Galaxy. notably during the Bruce Arena era when LA went on a 23-game unbeaten run stretching the 2013-2014 seasons. A Theatre of Winning if you will, and a nightmare for opposing teams.
Of course, it is also a legendary soccer venue, having hosted five MLS Cup finals, a World Cup final, David Beckham’s debut (Zlatan’s debut!) and countless memories. My personal favorite? The LA Galaxy Real Madrid friendly of 2005 featuring the other legendary Z - Zidane!
The StubHub Center might not have all the bells and whistles of the luxurious Banc of California Stadium, but it has the biggest trophy case. And cheaper parking.