Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Friday to apply for a $22.5 million federal loan to help fund a sports museum, conference rooms and other facilities next to the Los Angeles Football Club’s 22,000-seat soccer stadium in Exposition Park.

City officials say these facilities, which are part of the plans for the $250 million stadium project, face a funding gap that can be bridged with a loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

With the council’s unanimously vote today, the Economic and Workforce Development Department will be able to move forward on seeking a loan under HUD’s Section 108 program.

Such loans are reserved for projects that generate jobs and investment in areas that are struggling economically, and are using the city’s future allotments of Community Development Block Grant funds, which typically go toward infrastructure improvements and programs aimed at fighting poverty and creating affordable housing.

The city has used the Section 108 program in the past to secure loans for 30 other projects, according to EWDD officials. Los Angeles in 2010 received a $30 million loan for renovations at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, and smaller loans for constructing strip malls in Sun Valley and the Mid-City areas, according to HUD records.

Councilman Curren Price, who has worked to get the soccer stadium built in his district, said HUD’s loan program “is designed to fund economic revitalization projects when private financing isn’t willing to take on the risk in neighborhoods such as the one I represent.”

He said that “for far too long, private developers have ignored South Los Angeles — setting their sights on more lucrative options in other affluent parts of town.”

Price said the stadium project is expected to generate $2.5 million in local revenue each year, generate at least 3,000 jobs, nearly half of it local, and bring tourists to South Los Angeles.

The $22.5 million HUD loan would only go to the facilities being built next to the stadium, which include a sports museum, meeting and conference areas, retail and dining space, and a culinary academy, Price said.

The council in May approved the stadium project, which will replace the existing Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena with a stadium to house a Major League Soccer team.

Restaurants, retail and a sports museum are also part of the plans for the site. The project calls for about 143,000 square feet of open space for public use, including wide sidewalks and plazas.

Los Angeles Football Club was announced in 2014 as a replacement for the disbanded Chivas USA soccer club, which played for 10 years at StubHub Center in Carson, sharing the facility with the Los Angeles Galaxy. The new MLS team is expected to begin play in 2018 at the new stadium. The demolition of the Sports Arena was set for this summer.

–City News Service

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