Carson’s StubHub Center is now home to the Los Angeles Chargers – at least, until the NFL team’s new stadium is built in Inglewood. But with the Chargers playing in Carson for the next two years, both the city and the center are set to enter the massive national spotlight afforded by the NFL.
Katie Pandolfo, general manager of the StubHub Center in Carson, welcomes Ken Derrett, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of the Los Angeles Chargers, to his team’s temporary new home. The NFL team is using StubHub until a new stadium is built in Inglewood to house the Chargers and the L.A. Rams. (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Larry Duncan)
“The leadership and the folks in Carson have welcomed us with open arms,” A.G. Spanos, president of business operations for the Chargers, said via e-mail. “The area will provide a tremendous home for the Chargers while our the new L.A. stadium and entertainment district at Hollywood Park is constructed.”
While the new planned stadium for joint use by the Chargers and Los Angeles Rams will feature 80,000 seats, StubHub Center only has about 27,000. It is expanding its capacity to 30,000 seats for the Chargers’ run, according to StubHub Center Manager Katie Pandolfo.
Spanos has a positive take on the smaller venue size. “StubHub Center provides a rare opportunity to fans to see NFL action in such an intimate setting,” he said. “We want our fans to have a superior entertainment experience, and playing at StubHub is the first step in that direction. Every seat will feel close to the action.”
The team’s greatest challenge will be accommodating everyone who wants tickets, according to Spanos. In fact, as announced in recent weeks, the team’s season at StubHub is already sold out.
“We’re excited about the welcome we’ve received from the community and fans throughout the area. But we know we have a tremendous amount of work to do,” Spanos said. “We know we have to fight for our place in L.A. and earn the community’s support. And we know it won’t happen overnight.”
The Chargers’ current mission is to get to know the community and discover how to make a meaningful contribution, Spanos stated.
“Obviously, we are a building that operates 365 days a year already, and we’re used to doing very large-scale events,” Pandolfo said. “And so it was just a turnkey solution for them to come in and have all the amenities that they need for an NFL game.”
The Chargers are contributing to some necessary improvements at the stadium, including the addition of goal posts and netting. Some slated improvements, such as switching out the southerly scoreboard with an LED one, have been in the works for some time, Pandolfo noted.
Pandolfo said that having the Chargers at StubHub is an “exceptional opportunity” and one that elevates the center to a national and international stage. “While we have had the great fortune of having amazing soccer experiences here – we’ve had David Beckham and a lot of the soccer stars come through the stadium – I think this reaches a whole different demographic.”
StubHub was built in 2003 as the home of the Los Angeles Galaxy, a Major League Soccer (MLS) team. The Galaxy and its affiliate teams, such as the LA Galaxy II reserve team, still call the facility home.
“The Galaxy are doing great. We have been growing year over year, I think, at the same rate that soccer has been growing in this country,” Pandolfo said. When she started working at the center in 2004, there were only about 10 teams in the MLS. Now there are 22, she said.
In addition to its main stadium, StubHub Center has a number of other professional sports facilities, including the VELO Sports Center, America’s largest indoor wood bicycle racing track; a tennis stadium; and a track and field facility. The center often hosts a variety of sporting events, including professional boxing matches and cycling competitions.
“I think, because of our location on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills, our role is very important to be an active community partner,” Pandolfo said. “We partner with the city and a lot of the other nonprofits and organizations within the city to make sure that we are being a good corporate citizen, a good neighbor.”
StubHub Center puts on a variety of events for the community each year, including events for Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving. “We just did a huge Read Across America event a few weeks ago on Dr. Seuss’ birthday,” Pandolfo said. Athletes from the Chargers and Galaxy came to the stadium where they read to hundreds of local elementary school children. “It was just an incredible atmosphere – just one example of things that we do with schools in this area to try and give back to the kids who live right here in this community.”