With the news that MLS is basically imploding, the mess that is Chivas USA, in order to sell a new MLS team in Los Angeles, it’s worth looking at what that team could and should do in order to be successful. It’s not as if the team itself has been a complete failure since its inaugural season in 2005. In 2007, Chivas USA won the MLS Western Conference. The club developed some of US Soccer’s best players of the past decade: Sacha Kljestan and Brad Guzan both spent several years at Chivas. But the club hasn’t made the playoffs since 2009, and the average attendance in 2013 was 8,366–a measly number even by MLS standards. Many things went wrong with Chivas USA, from its choice of home stadium to its awful ownership, and the few in LA who were aware the brand existed are unlikely to miss it.
So what can this new club do to find success in Los Angeles? How can it learn from Chivas’ mistakes, as well as other successes and failures in Major League Soccer? I have a few suggestions that might help the club, henceforth known in this article as LA2, hit the ground running in 2017.
Location, Location, Location. The decision for Chivas USA to play in the same stadium as the LA Galaxy, with its Beckhams and its Donovans, seems at the very least to be misguided. The StubHub center, located on the campus of Cal State-Dominguez Hills in Carson, is hard enough to get to for most Angelenos, many of whom make the trip for the Galaxy because of its big names and fairly consistent success. There’s a reason that there is a solid distance between Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium–each is accessible to different parts of Southern California, and both teams flaunt “LA” in their name to squeeze as much as they can from one of the largest TV markets in the United States.
LA2 needs to set up shop in an area that is central to Los Angeles and the surrounding area, preferably close to young and up-and-coming neighborhoods to take advantage of LA’s growing hipster population. Dodger Stadium led the MLB average attendance numbers in 2013, in part because of its prime location near Silver Lake, Echo Park, and Downtown LA. Suggestions for LA2’s stadium location: Santa Monica (extremely popular beach town that attracts lots of tourists), Hollywood Heights (already popular for the Hollywood Bowl, but construction would be very pricey), Montecito Heights (could build into Debs Park, but unlikely for city to accept), Hacienda Heights/Whittier (more central for Inland Empire/Orange County, would likely get most of the fans east of LA proper).