LAFC-Banc of California deal fizzles out

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Banc of California Stadium naming rights Image: LAFC

Major League Soccer’s (MLS’s) Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) has been forced to hunt for a new naming-rights partner for its two-year-old residence after restructuring its 15-year, $100.5m (€91.1m) deal with Banc of California.

The ‘Black and Gold’s’ home facility has been known as Banc of California Stadium since it opened ahead of their 2018 expansion season, but as part of the announced restructuring the bank will eventually step away as the naming-rights partner for the stadium while staying on as the club’s official banking partner.

LAFC said that that Banc of California will eventually give up its naming rights to the still-new stadium just south of downtown Los Angeles in US.

LAFC didn’t announce a time frame for the removal of Banc of California from the stadium’s name or the selection of a new naming rights partner. The stadium will be known by its current name for the immediate future.

Banc of California agreed in 2016 to a reported 15-year, $100 million deal to have its name on the $350 million stadium built by LAFC’s deep-pocketed ownership group.

Los Angeles Football Club, commonly referred to as LAFC, is an American professional soccer franchise based in Los Angeles, California in US, which competes in Major League Soccer (MLS) as a member of the Western Conference. The team plays their home games at the Banc of California Stadium in Exposition Park in Los Angeles.

Banc of California Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium in the Exposition Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. It is the home of Major League Soccer’s LAFC. Opened on April 18, 2018, it was the first open-air stadium built in the City of Los Angeles since 1962.

The LAFC’s $350m venue has been known as Banc of California Stadium since the team joined the MLS fold in 2018. The naming-rights deal, which was struck in 2016 and is worth around $6.7m a year, is one of the biggest in the league.

A press release stated that the bank will “eventually” step away as the team’s naming-rights partner but will remain LAFC’s primary banking partner and continue with various partnerships.

The reasons behind restructuring have not been revealed. Media reports stated that Banc of California will pay a $20.1m termination fee to end the deal 12 years early, which amounts to three years of naming rights fees.

“We are extremely proud of our relationship with Banc of California and all that we have built and accomplished together,” LAFC Co-Owner and President Tom Penn said in a statement.

“We thank them for being our founding naming rights partner, helping us create something special and making Banc of California Stadium one of the best sports and entertainment experiences in Los Angeles. We are excited to continue working with Banc of California on our joint community initiatives, while also pursuing a new naming rights partner for the stadium,” Penn added.

The stadium is all set to stage the 2021 MLS All-Star Game after this year’s event at the same venue was called off due to the global COVID-19 outbreak.

Major League Soccer is a men’s professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation which represents the sport’s highest level in the United States and Canada. The MLS All-Star Game is an annual soccer game held by Major League Soccer featuring selected players from the league against an international club.

MLS remains indefinitely suspended due to the ongoing health crisis and is looking to return to competition with a tournament in Orlando, Florida, this summer.

The surrealistic 22,000-seat stadium sits on a land long occupied by the Los Angeles Sports Arena, in close vicinity to the famed Coliseum.

With thousands of frenzied fans standing in the stadium’s North End since its inaugural game, LAFC became an immediate MLS powerhouse during its first two seasons. LAFC’s every MLS game which it has played at the stadium has been a sellout, with its streak currently standing at 44 games.

The club won the Supporters’ Shield as the league’s regular season champions last Fall, posting the best record in MLS history and setting a league record for goal differential.

The stadium is scheduled to host soccer games and track and field events during the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028. It has also staged rugby, boxing and numerous concerts.

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