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LA Football Club: Expansion soccer team plans $250 million stadium

An artist's rendering shows a soccer stadium that would be part of a 15-acre complex in Exposition Park near downtown Los Angeles. The stadium, if built, would house the Los Angeles Football Club, Major League Soccer's expansion team. The team formally announced its plans on Monday, May 18, 2015. Gensler

The Major League Soccer expansion team Los Angeles Football Club announced Monday they'll be pouring $250 million into a new stadium on the site of the Sports Arena near USC. 

The planned 22,000-seat venue will be the most expensive privately funded soccer stadium in the United States, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The stadium's design comes from architectural firm Gensler, which oversaw the renovation of Cleveland's FirstEnergy Stadium (and, incidentally, designed the world's second-tallest building, the Shanghai Tower, which is set to open later this year).

"We want [the stadium] to be one of the cathedrals of soccer in this country and around the world. The great opportunity here is that L.A. is the world's city, and this is the monument to the world's game here," said Henry Nguyen, a managing partner with LAFC.

The stadium is part of a larger project that will include over 100,000 sq. ft. of new restaurants, office space, a conference center and a first-of-its kind world soccer museum, according to a statement from LAFC.

The club estimates construction will generate one-time economic activity of $275 million and over 1,200 new union and non-union jobs. They also predict annual operations of the stadium will generate more than $129 million in economic activity, create more than 1,800 full-time jobs and produce $2.5 million in annual tax revenue.

Former L.A. Lakers Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson, who is part-owner of the club, praised the future stadium, citing in particular its expected impact on local jobs.

"It's very important that we include the community, because we want them to come not just work here, not just come attend the game here, but it's going to become part of the community. Because that's what we're all about: inclusion," Johnson said, speaking at a press conference debuting the plans Monday.

As KPCC has reported in the past, some economists are skeptical of such rosy outlooks, though, suggesting major stadium projects have little to no economic impact on a community.

"If you ever had a consensus in economics, this would be it," Michael Leeds, a sports economist at Temple University, told KPCC in February. "There is no impact."

The discussion then was a reaction to Inglewood's economic impact study for a proposed NFL stadium. But Leeds, who studied the topic in Chicago, said the impact of eliminating every sports team in the city "would be a fraction of 1 percent."

Economics aside, the project still needs approval from the L.A. City Council and the Coliseum Commission. If it gets the green light, Angelenos can expect a second professional soccer stadium by 2018 (the L.A. Galaxy already play at the StubHub Center in Carson).

This story has been updated.