LA Galaxy Exhibition Puts Spotlight on Orange County Great Park
The Major League Soccer season doesn’t begin until March, but clubs will be busy with exhibition matches in February.
One of those in the Southern California area is the Los Angeles Galaxy’s game against the San Jose Earthquakes on February 17, which takes place at Orange County Great Park in Irvine. The Galaxy typically play in Carson but this game in Orange County is an opportunity to appeal to fans in that area and potentially try to attract new fans as the Los Angeles market welcomes a second MLS club this season (LAFC, which will play in Exposition Park).
Orange County Great Park already has a soccer tenant in LAFC’s minor league affiliate, Orange County SC. But bringing an MLS club down to the area is a much bigger attraction. It also puts an even larger spotlight on the ongoing Great Park development conversation.
Over the last year, the city of Irvine and Orange County have been at odds over how to utilize land just south of Great Park, as well as the Cultural Terrace area. Dueling construction projects in the area could potentially cause increased traffic into and around the park. Irvine also contends that Orange County may not have the right to develop the land. Irvine and Great Park developer Five Points sued Orange County in December.
Orange County has plans to build condos, commercial space, and a hotel, which, combined, could end up earning the county $4 billion over the next 75 years. Great Park’s Cultural Terrace plans include building new amenities for the surrounding community, with residents expressing interest in options like an amphitheater, museums, or athletic courts.
Among Great Park’s many existing amenities are an arts complex, ice facility, and sports complex. The sports complex already supports soccer, tennis, volleyball, and other community sports, plus a large children’s play area. Future plans include a golf course, new wildlife corridors and agriculture areas, and other ideas to further utilize the massive outdoor space.
Great Park has come under some recent criticism for accounting issues, however. The California State Accountancy Board has recommended Great Park’s accounting firm have its license suspended after audits indicated issues with fund placements and usage.
Controversy or not, there will be ample fanfare around the Galaxy’s game later this month. The club plays two regional exhibition matches this February, along with its games at its home stadium, the StubHub Center. Along with the game at Orange County Great Park, the Galaxy will also play Fresno FC (of the United Soccer League) near Santa Barbara.