The Los Angeles live concert market just got a little bit more heated. With AEG and MSG competing for acts to perform at the Staples Center and the Forum (respectively), the 23,500-seat Banc of California Stadium opens for its premiere music-related event, KIIS and iHeartRadio’s Wango Tango, on Saturday night (June 2), headlined by Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes. The newcomer was built in 20 months for $350 million on the site of the venerable L.A. Memorial Sports Arena — site of legendary shows by U2 and Bruce Springsteen as well as basketball’s L.A. Clippers for a time — adjacent to the Coliseum and the USC campus.
Recently named president of the newly formed Banc of California Stadium Entertainment Division, Adam Friedman, a 25-year live entertainment veteran with stops at Nederlander, House of Blues and Universal Concerts, hosted a walk-through of the venue, home to Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC (Football Club), which has already played five games at the USC-leased facility since its April 29th opener.
With its steeped seating, open design, 36 separate VIP suites and view through the roof of the downtown city skyline, Banc of California Stadium combines the breadth of an open-air stadium with the intimacy of an indoor arena. Its ownership team is impressive, including entertainment mogul Peter Guber, actor Will Ferrell, self-help guru Tony Robbins, Dick Clark Productions CEO Allen Shapiro, YouTube cofounder Chad Hurley and WME/IMG co-president Mark Shapiro along with sports giants Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former Boston Red Sox and L.A. Dodger Nomar Garciaparra and wife, ex-soccer great Mia Hamm.
Friedman calls the new venue “promoter-agnostic,” insisting it’s open to all promoters, and ticketing services. “We are going to be very aggressive in the marketplace, to try to do a good job and secure as many of those shows we can,” he says, pointing to the surrounding Expo Park and other adjacent grounds as perfect for music festivals like the recently canceled FYF, which used to occupy the same area, but without a suitable venue. “But we play nicely in the sandbox. We want our promotion friends to be successful in other venues as well. We want this venue to be accessible to everyone.”
The state-of-the-art venue boasts excellent sight lines, even from the furthest seats, with a number of amenities, including a top-floor Sunset Deck with several chaise lounges, a wading pool, a ping-pong table (Friedman discovered the ball had a seam in it and immediately made a note to replace it) and a panoramic view of the stadium’s interior more befitting a luxury hotel than an arena. There are several other VIP areas, including a Field Level Club – where you get to see the players march out to the pitch hand-in-hand with inner-city kids – the Founders Club, the City View Club, the Directors Lounge and various party suites for private events. Local foods make up a portion of the concessions, including Korean street food restaurant Seoul Sausage, Compton-based barbecue Bludso’s, Koreatown craft-beer/food joint Beer Belly and downtown L.A.’s Natives Chicas Tacos. Later this summer, The Field, a restaurant which will be open to the public within the stadium, offers up fare from 10 of the area’s top chefs.
As the first open-air venue built and opened in the Los Angeles area since Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine in 1962, Banc of America Stadium is already booked for several events, including an Epic Games Fortnite Pro-Am event on June 12, with players competing in the popular interactive video game on the giant Panasonic LED screen as well as a number of Rugby Sevens tournaments. There are also plans for hosting both soccer and track and field events when the Summer Olympics come to L.A. in 2028.
“What both ownership and designers wanted was to create a stadium with arena-like qualities,” explains Friedman. “That basically encapsulates what this facility is about. There is not a bad seat in the house, and not too many venues can say that.”