LOS ANGELES (FOX 11 / CNS) - With much fanfare, the ribbon was officially cut Wednesday to mark the completion of Banc of California Stadium in Exposition Park, home of the Los Angeles Football Club of Major League Soccer.
Team owners Earvin "Magic'' Johnson, Mia Hamm-Garciaparra and Nomar Garciaparra were among those attending the ceremonial event, along with MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other elected and team officials.
The 22,000-seat stadium will have an intimate atmosphere with the steepest seating bowl in MLS, 34 degrees, and seats 12 feet away from the sideline. "The North End'' Supporters Section features what the team describes as the first safe standing rail seats in North America, allowing fans to stand shoulder-to-shoulder.
"Rarely can you say this has exceeded expectations. It exceeded expectations,'' said LAFC executive director Peter Guber. "When you go and you walk through it and you look at it, you can't help but say, 'Wow, I want to be here.' And that's the very purpose of this building, for the city to be here.''
LAFC Manager Bob Bradley said he was excited for the team's chance to bring its passion and heart to the new field in honor of the people who made the new building happen.
"For everyone whose been a part of it, it's our house,'' he said. "And together, we're LAFC.''
Construction of the stadium on the former site of the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena took 20 months. It is the first open-air stadium to be built in Los Angeles since Dodger Stadium was completed in 1962.
The $350 million project also includes a large public plaza, restaurants, LAFC retail store and a conference and events center planned to be in use 365 days a year.
In addition to LAFC games, the stadium will be a site for concerts, beginning June 2 with the pop music festival Wango Tango, and soccer in the 2028 Olympics.
LAFC will play its first game at the stadium April 29 against Seattle Sounders FC.