The Irvine City Council has opted not to discuss an agenda item during its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 9, that would grant the LA Galaxy exclusive rights to the soccer stadium inside the Great Park for Division 3 use.
If approved, the move would ultimately evict the Orange County Soccer Club from Championship Stadium, a facility it has used since 2017.
Other changes include replacing the stadium field’s natural turf with artificial turf, which would allow the venue to host more games at various levels.
A memo found in the LA Galaxy partnership proposal indicated that there was a consensus among community groups that Champion Stadium is difficult to access. Due to the exclusive contract with OCSC, community groups are given access about 80 days per year.
Options for changes in the operational model of Championship Stadium include continuing with the current model — 40 days of pro soccer, 80 days of community group access, and 12 weeks of turf rest. The second option would be to partner with the LA Galaxy, according to a memo.
“LA Galaxy I has expressed interest to play their home games at Great Park and is requesting confirmation of the City’s interest to pursue a partnership by August 12, to allow sufficient time to secure an alternate location for their upcoming season, in the event the City is not interested in pursuing a partnership,” the memo read.
However, the club released a statement suggesting that the proposal involving LA Galaxy was done without input or feedback from OCSC, according to club owner James Keston.
“In response to the intended proposal, which was developed without OCSC’s input or awareness, the club is exploring its legal and contractual options, including whether the Galaxy – whose reserve team, LA Galaxy II, currently plays in the USL Championship – are in breach of USL rules,” Keston said. “The LA Galaxy is prepared to offer compensation to the City of Irvine to drive OCSC, and all other local men’s and women’s pro teams in OC, from their home stadium in the Great Park.”
Jake Edwards, President of the United Soccer League, also expressed displeasure about the situation.
“The USL is disappointed by the news that the City of Irvine would even consider terminating Orange County SC’s tenancy at Championship Soccer Stadium in Great Park and provide exclusive use to the LA Galaxy’s developmental team. In response, we are working closely with OCSC to explore legal and contractual options,” Edwards said.
The item was listed as a “study session” on the August 9 agenda. However, it was removed on Monday.
In a text message with Irvine Weekly, Irvine Councilmember Tammy Kim said she wasn’t involved in day-to-day operations with the item, but that the council was currently in “wait-and-see” mode.
Kim directed additional questions to the city manager’s office. An email to the city manager’s office was not returned by the time of publication.
OCSC released a statement on Monday, Aug. 8, explaining that the city informed the club that the City Council would not be discussing the item. However, fans were encouraged to attend the City Council meeting to show support.
“This is a small step forward, but it does not change anything. The threat of LA Galaxy evicting us from our Irvine home remains and it does not change the fact that OCSC still has complete uncertainty over our future in this Stadium,” the statement read. “We would like to thank our fans, and fans of all those other teams across the country – including so many Galaxy fans – for the passion and kindness they have shown us in the past 72 hours in our fight to keep us from being evicted from our home.”
This is a developing story.
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