MLS buys Chivas USA franchise, announces it needs a new stadium

For those of you who don’t follow Major League Soccer too closely, some background: 1) There is a team called Chivas USA; 2) it plays in Los Angeles, or at least in Carson, which is close enough to L.A. to be where the Los Angeles Galaxy also plays; 3) “chivas” means “goats” in Spanish; 4) this is because the team is owned by a Guadalajara team of the same name, adopted in the ’40s after it was initially bestowed as an insult by opposing fans, and the L.A. team was started to try to appeal to Mexican soccer fans in Southern California.

Now forget all that, because after ten years, the league has bought the franchise back from its Mexican owners, and plans to find new owners, rename it, and presumably wash away any memory of a team that has been mostly terrible and poorly attended. Here’s what the league said in its announcement on Thursday:

In the coming months, the league will resell the club to a new ownership group that will be committed to building a new stadium and keeping the team in Los Angeles. The league has had initial discussions with a number of very qualified potential owners and intends to finalize an agreement with a new group sometime this year.

That’s right, a new stadium. Even though the existing stadium (which was formerly named after a home repair store and is currently named after a ticket broker, and will probably have still another new name before I finish typing this sentence) is only 11 years old and has plenty of open dates, since it appears to be used exclusively for soccer. But when you have a free-agent franchise, might as well see what somebody will offer you for it, right, even if you’re limiting yourself to the L.A. area; hey, all the other kids are doing it.

Initial speculation focused on St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke (or “Stank Kroenke,” as NBC Sports wonderfully typos him), who recently bought a bunch of land in Inglewood that could be used for a stadium, maybe. One small problem, though, is that Kroenke already owns an MLS team (the Colorado Rapids), and though in the early years of the league owners happily controlled many teams at once (Philip Anschutz had six at one point), league commissioner Don Garber said they’re not going that route again:

“He [Kroenke] is not a candidate to purchase the team, those days are over,” Garber said, referring to the days when multiple MLS franchises were owned by the same families or organizations. “We are not interested in any other owner owning multiple teams. Stan’s been a great owner of the Colorado Rapids. I’m not familiar with what his plans are on the stadium site, we haven’t spoken about that. But all those rumors that I heard about him ‘buying the land so he could launch a second MLS team’ are unfounded.”

Of course, there’s nothing stopping Kroenke from selling the Rapids and buying Chivas, if he wants. Or building a stadium in Inglewood for the Rams, and then playing landlord to Chivas. Or just being a great big ol’ stalking horse to bid up the price of Chivas, both for an owner looking to acquire it and for an L.A.-area city looking to host it.

Anyway, at least now L.A. has another sport to spread crazy stadium rumors about, now that the NFL stuff has died down, more or less. And Garber is cementing his reputation as a guy whose main goal is a new stadium in every pot, and he doesn’t much care where the pot is. If his goal is to be the Johnny Appleseed of soccer-specfic stadiums, he’s making great progress — look: There goes Sacramento now!

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8 comments on “MLS buys Chivas USA franchise, announces it needs a new stadium

  1. To be fair, the stadium in Carson hosts much more than just soccer, regardless of what the current events schedule might say. It hosts rugby, the X-Games regularly, high school football, is the site of numerous TV commercials and one-off TV sports/competition shows. Lots of stuff.

  2. Thanks, KT — the stadium’s website isn’t exactly useful in that regard. (Though it did teach me that the Galaxy now have a minor-league affiliate called the Galaxy II.)

    I still don’t see high school football as being a huge competitor to Chivas for dates, though. Anyone know what the team’s lease with AEG looks like?

  3. Chivas USA had to be blown up once the racism stuff popped up, so from that standpoint this is a positive.

  4. BFR: Can you expand on that statement for those of us to whom this is news?


    Certainly the former HDC has hosted high school (and maybe even college) football games in the past. I haven’t seen the remnants of US football lines on the field for a while, but there have definitely been at least a couple of games a year in the past.

    Given Chivas’ attendance history, I’m thinking there aren’t many forms of entertainment that couldn’t outdraw them at the HDC given half a chance…

  5. JB – they were sued by some number of their former employees for discriminating against (if not purging) anyone who wasn’t Mexican and/or didn’t speak Spanish.

    This stuff popped up during the season last year and I think there was some major reshuffling done as a result of the terrible PR but I guess the ownership group wasn’t removed until now.

  6. If they’re going to have two soccer teams in LA, they need to be in different parts of the Metro area. Soccer is not an all-day tailgating sport like Football. Doesn’t mean the public should pay for it though.

  7. Why can’t the franchise be move to Anaheim or San Diego? Oh yeah a soccer-specific stadium needs to be built. I don’t that happening in either cities given the situation with the Angels and the Chargers.

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