Orange County SC alleges LA Galaxy are trying to take their place
The fight for the future of Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine appears to have started in a big way, as Orange County SC announced on Friday that they had to fight to stay at the site of Orange County Great Park. They allege that the LA Galaxy organization has submitted a proposal to undermine Orange County SC’s presence from 2023, which would kick the defending champions out of the reigning USL Championship.
Orange County SC has revealed a proposal from the Galaxy organization to the city of Irvine, which owns the stadium, to take over as tenant of the Championship football stadium from 2023, presumably for the reserve team du Galaxy calls home, after moving to MLS. Next Pro, the new third level professional league. The difference, according to the OCSC, is that the new proposal would be an exclusive lease – in other words, the expulsion of Orange County SC from the stadium they have called home since 2017, along with any other team. adult currently using the site, which includes California United Strikers FC’s NISA team.
“Our club is built in Irvine, 100% proud of Orange County and now under attack. We are stunned and extremely disappointed by yesterday’s news that the city may be undoing all the great work we have done in football and in the local Orange County community,” the OCSC owner said. , James Keston, in the team statement. “The OCSC has called the Championship Soccer Stadium home for the past five years. It’s where fans have gathered to watch our team represent their community, where we’ve won trophies and where local players have achieved their dreams going from the academy to the pros and at some of the biggest clubs in the world.”
The Galaxy’s alleged proposal undermines Orange County SC’s own efforts to renew their lease with the city of Irvine for 2023 and beyond, acting president of business operations Dan Rutstein told Angels. on Parade during an interview on Saturday was something they were in the process of doing.
“We love Orange County Soccer Club playing in the Great Park,” Rutstein said. “We love this stadium, we are fans of this stadium. We want to continue playing there and it’s something we’ve talked about with the city, frankly from time to time since we moved there, but with much more urgency over the past year as a result of our [league title] victory, the club began to grow, the number of fans is leaving[ing] there and just trying to do more with the stadium. As we build our club, we build our brand and we build our community in Orange County.
Rutstein explained the process of renewing OCSC’s lease contract for the Championship Football Stadium through a formal Request for Proposal with the City of Irvine – with no desire to play there exclusively, as they want share the pitch with local teams – then seemed to hit a wall recently.
“Besides, these discussions were really going nowhere. We weren’t getting responses even to our official call for tenders. And then out of left field, this Galaxy proposal pops up,” Rutstein said.
Simply put, Orange County SC’s main complaint about the Galaxy organization’s alleged proposal is that it seeks exclusivity, which means the OCSC would be completely bereft of a venue for the 2023 season if the Galaxy were to get what he was looking for. Also, if Orange County or another local ownership group is considering launching a women’s professional team, which the club has teased, they are interested in doing, with the USL Super League launching in 2023, they should also find another location, which could delay or completely abandon these plans.
To back up their case for continuing to play at Orange County Great Park, OCSC can cite a massive, years-long effort to plant roots in the Irvine community. As well as playing at Irvine since 2014, when Keston bought the club in 2016, they quickly rebranded as Orange County SC and have worked hard over the past five years to be a legitimate member of the community.
“We continue to grow,” Rutstein said. “And it’s about people knowing who we are as a team because of what we achieve on the field and the big transfers and putting Orange County football on the club map, but also where our players go next. But there’s also this huge part of the community work that we do. Literally sponsored by the hospital group [Hoag]. We launched our kit last year using healthcare workers. We have our community corner. We organize events with non-profit organizations all the time. Today’s game is our community night, where local nonprofits are coming in and there will be a halftime check with a chance for the nonprofit that brought in the most fans. at the stage of earning a large sum of money. We do this stuff all the time.
Attendance has increased significantly this season, over 30%, and it seems the club’s roots in the community over time run wide and deep.
“We are big supporters of all of this and we are doing more and our message is clear and we are growing as a club. We just want to be given a home to do it,” Rutstein added.
Perhaps reinforcing Orange County SC’s claims, they have the USL Championship on board in their cause to keep the championship football stadium their home.
“The USL is disappointed to learn that the City of Irvine would even consider ending Orange County SC’s lease of Championship Soccer Stadium in Great Park and providing exclusive use to the LA Galaxy development team. In response, we are working closely with the OCSC to explore legal and contractual options,” United Soccer League Chairman Jake Edwards said in the OCSC statement.
Perhaps further complicating the picture – and possibly giving the USL leverage to get involved – is the Galaxy’s reserve team, LA Galaxy II, which currently plays in the USL Championship, and could do subject to sanctions because of this decision. But this is the last season in this league for the club, which is expected to basically transition to MLS Next Pro, which, as the name suggests, is owned and operated by MLS.
A request for comment on this to the Galaxy on Saturday went unanswered at press time.
Rutstein stressed that the situation is ongoing and that the next big step will come on Tuesday, when the Galaxy’s proposal is expected to be discussed at an Irvine City Council hearing. The hearing is due to start at 4pm and fans interested in attending in support of the OCSC are encouraged to wear Orange County SC gear and support the club. Additionally, there is a homepage for actions you can take to support Orange County SC, so be sure to visit it if you want to speak up constructively on the matter.
“We want it to be community land,” Rutstein stressed, as the OCSC really kicks off the fight to keep their site.
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