Hundreds of spirited supporters celebrated the partnership between the newest Major League Soccer franchise and California State University, Los Angeles at the LAFC Performance Center @ Cal State LA on Friday.
Cal State LA President William A. Covino welcomed students, faculty and staff to the May 4 event, which featured an exclusive look at the Los Angeles Football Club’s $30 million facility at the northern gateway of the university’s campus.
“We look forward to a long and rewarding partnership with LAFC,” Covino said, standing on the pitch of the state-of-the-art facility. “We are joining forces to serve our communities.”
The event was a behind-the-scenes experience for the Cal State LA community, who watched players practice and heard from LAFC’s President and Owner Tom Penn and Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations John Thorrington. Members of the Cal State LA Afro Latin Ensemble entertained the crowd with a lively performance. Cal State LA mascot Eddie the Golden Eagle, sporting an LAFC shirt, was also there to pump up the crowd. After visiting the training facility, participants enjoyed a festival featuring music, food, raffles and giveaways.
“We’re honored and privileged to be partnered with you,” Penn told the crowd at the festival. “You’re one of us. We’re one of you.”
Penn was impressed by the turnout and the festivities. “Cal State LA does not mess around. You get stuff done,” he said.
The occasion also marked the debut of The LA Golden Eagles, an LAFC supporters group being formed by students. The group is open to everyone and will be part of The 3252 LAFC Independent Supporters Union. The union encompasses supporter groups from across the Los Angeles region. The 3252 refers to the capacity of the supporters section on the north end of Banc of California Stadium.
LAFC trains at Cal State LA and plays its games at the sleek new stadium in Exposition Park, where the team scored a spectacular 1-0 win against the Seattle Sounders in the final seconds of its historic home opener on April 29.
Lively music mixed by a DJ from Golden Eagle Radio filled the air during the festivities. There was also a special performance by The Drool Brothers, a psychedelic rock and funk band featuring Cal State LA alumnus and former University Registrar Chuck Mancillas on drums and lead vocals.
The Black and Gold Sponsors of the event were Delta Aeromexico, Cal State LA’s Center for Student Involvement and The Drool Brothers. One raffle winner, student Gianfranco Abrego, scored a round-trip game experience provided by Delta Aeromexico and LAFC to see the team play on the road. Other winners took home gift cards, LAFC swag and LA Golden Eagles baseball caps and T-shirts.
“This was a wonderful event for our students and we are thrilled that they are forming an LAFC supporters group,” Vice President for Student Life Nancy Wada-McKee said.
Added Cal State LA Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jose A. Gomez: “Today’s turnout shows that the Cal State LA community is excited about our partnership with the LAFC. Together we are a winning team.”
The LAFC committed $1.6 million in support for Cal State LA, including funding a renovation of the University’s Jesse Owens Track in the Billie Jean King Sports Complex. The stadium now boasts a new track, soccer field and lighting system.
Cal State LA students will also benefit from internships with the LAFC, which is owned by a group of civic, sports and business leaders.
Kinesiology students will perform clinical practicum hours with the team in its training facility and its youth academy. The LAFC is also assisting in the development of a new master’s degree program in sport operations and athlete representation.