New MLS L.A. team has owners, not much else

There’s more information out today (okay, really late yesterday) on the artist-soon-to-be-formerly-known-as-Chivas-USA: The new owners will include the billionaire Malaysian owner of Cardiff City, a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Golden State Warriors, the owner of Vietnam’s first McDonald’s, and an ESPN basketball analyst; they’ll pay more than $100 million for an expansion team in L.A. to start play in 2017 or so, replacing Chivas, which will be dissolved immediately; and they’re looking at sites for a new soccer stadium, including, according to unnamed sources, ones “in downtown L.A. (‘not far from the Staples Center’) and near the Hollywood Park racetrack.”

One thing I can tell you right now: If the new owners plan on having a new stadium in place before they start play, no way in hell they take the pitch in 2017: It’d take about two years just to build a stadium, and they still have to decide on a site and a way to pay for it, let alone waiting out California’s environmental impact review process. They do have other options if they want to start play sooner — sharing digs with the Galaxy temporarily while a new stadium gets built, for example — but if they want to wait until stadium plans are finalized before actually launching the franchise, don’t be surprised to see that date slip. After all, David Beckham starting a team in Miami in 2016 was once considered a sure thing, and now it’s on the backest of burners.

Unless Los Angeles is considered such an awesome two-team market that nobody cares where the team plays, as happened with another large city not that long ago. But a new stadium by 2017? That ain’t happening.

ESPN says MLS to shut down Chivas after this year, wait for new L.A. stadium of its very own

Speaking of soccer, if you’ve gotten used to referring to NYC F.C. as MLS’s 20th team, recalibrate your ordinal numbers: According to ESPN, MLS will shut down Chivas USA after this season for a two-year “hiatus,” then bring it back as a new team, with a new name. In other words, as Deadspin puts it, “MLS is contracting, with plans to expand again with a new, second team in L.A.” It’s just not calling it that, because “contracting” sounds bad, whereas “rebranding” sounds all shiny and 21st century!

And in addition to a new name, the new L.A. team will apparently be seeking a new L.A. stadium so it no longer has to share digs with the L.A. Galaxy:

The club is expected to go dark for a minimum of two years until the new ownership group can plan and build a new stadium for the team. MLS has confirmed the land in Exposition Park where the L.A. Sports Arena sits as a potential site for the new venue.

That minimum could easily end up being extended, then, given that the current arena on the site is owned by the county L.A. Memorial Coliseum Commission, and managed by USC under a long-term lease. Add in that nobody, so far as I can tell, has actually figured out how to pay for building a new stadium, let alone how any payment for the land would work out, and this could be a very long drawn-out process.

It’s even possible, of course, that MLS would just throw the former Chivas franchise back in the expansion hopper, and offer it as another team to one of the eight billion other cities angling to join MLS. It’s not Plan A, obviously — MLS would clearly rather have two teams in L.A. as in New York City, which makes sense given that both are more than twice the size of some of the smaller wannabe MLS markets — but when your sports league has a seller’s market for franchises, having one more to put on the block is never a bad option to have.

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!