LAFC opens Banc of California stadium with host of celebrity owners on hand

Major League Soccer expansion team LAFC officially opened its new soccer-specific Banc of California Stadium on Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new $350 million arena in Los Angeles' revitalized downtown.

MLS commissioner Don Garber attended the star-studded event along with LAFC owners Magic Johnson, Nomar Garciaparra, Mia Hamm-Garciaparra, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and LAFC coach Bob Bradley.

"I'm happy to be a part of this incredible ownership group," said former NBA star Johnson during the ceremony. "And just like we were able to turn the Lakers around into a championship team, we're going to do the same thing with this great soccer team. We will be champions one day."

LAFC's first home match will be played on April 29 against the Seattle Sounders. The team began the 2018 season with six-consecutive road matches, the last one of which will be next Saturday at Montreal.

Bradley and his players practiced for the first time at their new home immediately following the ceremony.

"Our stadium is amazing, being able to play in a completely new place is going to be very nice and we are all excited to play in front of our fans," Carlos Vela said after training at the new venue.

LAFC have already sold its maximum 17,500 season tickets for the 22,000-seat stadium, meaning fans can only buy single-game tickets in the North End supporters' section and other spots around the field.

"This is an incredible stadium, it's an incredible venue," said Hamm-Garciaparra, the former U.S. women's national team star. "But it's our fans and it's our supporters that, yes, we are here in the heart of Los Angeles but you guys are the heartbeat and that is what I cannot wait to feel, to hear, to experience on the day of our first match."

After hosting four MLS games, Banc of California Stadium will also hold a ceremonial opener between LAFC and German club Borussia Dortmund on May 22.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.