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StubHub Center

Carson, CA

Home of the Los Angeles Galaxy

3.6

4.1

StubHub Center (map it)
18400 Avalon Boulevard
Carson, CA 90746


Los Angeles Galaxy website

StubHub Center website

Year Opened: 2003

Capacity: 27,000

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In a Galaxy Not Far, Far Away...

A Not so long time ago, in a galaxy not far, far away, the year was 1996. Los Angeles, one of the most storied sports towns in the United States, was granted one of the ten charter franchises of Major League Soccer.

While the first fans may remember the Galaxy playing at the Rose Bowl, the team moved to a more modern $150 million facility in 2003. The capacity dropped from over 100,000 to a much more intimate 27,000. The fans responded positively, and the Home Depot Center has been filled ever since.

The stadium is located on the California State University, Dominguez Hills campus in Carson, CA. It is approximately 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles and easily accessible from the 405 or 91 freeways. If Carson doesn’t ring a bell, you may recognize it as the setting for movies such as “The Cable Guy,” and “Gone in 60 Seconds.” While the name leads one to believe otherwise, the television show “Reno 911” is also filmed here and Carson was even the location of the “Hey Mickey” music video long before the MLS was ever created.

It is said that the Galaxy derived it nickname from Los Angeles, being the home of the stars. Clearly, this was a much better choice than being home to the traffic or smog.

3.6

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

While the local neighborhood offers quite a few options, there are also some choices inside the stadium that the soccer fan may want to try during a visit. Unfortunately many of the food options are at rather elevated prices and while this is to be expected for this region, I cannot say that the quality even remotely lines up with the prices.

Some of the more traditional options include hot dog ($4.75), Italian sausage ($6.50), nachos ($5.75), a slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza ($5.75), super pretzel ($4), peanuts ($5), popcorn ($4.75), and chips ($3.75). Some of the newer options I noticed during my most recent visit included specialty dogs such as the Frito pie dog, Nach-yo-dog, and big kid dog (all priced at $5.75).

The popular Guatemalan chain known as Campero has a location on site, offering chicken fingers ($7.75), 2-piece chicken ($7.75), and french fries ($5).

On the concourse behind the sidelines, you can find a variety of Mexican options that include a Tostado Grande ($8.50), Crispy chicken or beef tacos ($6.50), burrito ($7.75), fiesta salad ($7.75), super nachos ($8.00), If you want a little more flavor with your nachos, they also offer options with pulled pork, philly cheese steak, and jerk ($8.75).

If you get thirsty, the Home Depot Center offers Coke products at $4.00 and $5 for a larger size. Bottled water was also available for $4. domestic drafts were available for $8.75, while premium drafts were priced at $9.50. The larger 24 oz. sizes were $11.00 for a domestic and $13.00 for a premium. Some of their premium options include Dos Equis and Heineken. Margaritas were also available for $12.00.

I was rather surprised that being a more modern venue that they did not have more branded food vendors in the facility. It seems that the nearby Staples Center, Dodger Stadium, and Angel Stadium all have well-known chain vendors in their venues, but none at the Home Depot Center.

Atmosphere    5

The sightlines are key in making any stadium journey great and Home Depot Center provides some of the best for all fans. While 27,000 seems modest in terms of attendance, it is phenomenal for the experience as every seat in the house seems to be a decent one, and even average fans can get close to the action.

To really get involved in the atmosphere, make sure you check out Soccer Fest on the main concourse by the north entrance prior to the game. Fans of all genders and ages can enjoy the games, music, interactive booths, and even get photos with the life-size player cutouts.

Again, I need to quote the comfort and intimacy of the stadium when it comes to the atmosphere. While sections 107-115 and 128-136 have individual seats equipped with armrests and cup holders, even the bleacher seats have seatbacks and are reasonably spacious.

Neighborhood    3

There are many pros and cons surrounding the neighborhood outside of the Home Depot Center. Carson is just 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles and not far from Long Beach, so any fan will have a vast amount of things to do before or after the game. That being said, there are not any notable experiences just outside the stadium.

If fans ever make it through the stadium traffic, there is a lot in terms of food and shopping just a few minutes away. In terms of fast food, you can have KFC, Carl's Jr, Jack-in-the-Box, Subway, Fatburger, and Taco Bell. Other food options that I did not have a chance to try include R & R Soul Food, and Bodacious Q, which offers a lot of barbeque options.

Not far from the stadium, you'll find a Chili's, which offers a rather predictable, but delicious experience.

I almost thought that I was in Louisiana for a moment with all of the local "Big-Easy" inspired options. Less than a mile from the stadium, you'll find Louisiana Fried Chicken, the Bayou Grille, and Louisiana Hometown Seafood.

The Big Burger is another option. They have reasonable pricing with meals under $6. Rather than the traditional white bun, you can also choose wheat buns and I hear good things about their turkey burger. The only shortfall of this place is that it is a "cash-only" restaurant.

If I had to pick one stop near the Home Depot Center, it would have to be the Off Campus Pub. They offer the largest selection of beer on tap anywhere in Carson (24 beers on draft) and have everything from your traditional favorites to local brews. If you are particularly thirsty, they even offer a 50 oz mug!

Watching soccer games are so much more enjoyable with a group of rowdy fans, so you may want to check out one of the Galaxy official pubs:

• Kings Head (Studio City, CA)

• Ye Olde Kings Head (Santa Monica, CA)

• OB's Pub & Grill (Manhattan Beach, CA)

• The Olde Ship (Santa Ana, CA)

• Gallaghers Pub and Grill (Long Beach, CA)

• The Auld Dubliner (Long Beach, CA)

• ESPN Zone LA Live (Los Angeles, CA)

• El Cholo Café (Pasadena, CA)

Fans    5

The fans were easily the best part of the experience. I often found my head turned toward the large groups of fans to observe their antics, often as much as I was watching the game itself.

At the south end, behind the goal, was a highly concentrated group waving flags, and screaming for their team throughout the game. At one point during the game, the fans at one end would yell "L.A." and the other would subsequently yell "Galaxy!"

Sections 137 and 138 are reserved for the Galaxy's most passionate supporters. The average fan will not fit in here as these fans are known to stand throughout the game and sing, chant, and make noise heard throughout the galaxy. Two of the more notable groups in this fanbase include the "GaLAxians" and the "Angel City Brigade." Of course, there is also "Cozmo," the mascot of the Galaxy who is found all over the Home Depot Center generating excitement during the game.

The Galaxy even offers options for younger fans to get involved in the experience. Children can serve as ball kids during the match or participate in a pre-game parade across the field, the "high-five line" or presenting the center circle banner at midfield during pre-game ceremonies.

Access    2

The Home Depot Center is accessible from the 91, 405 and 110 freeways. Unfortunately the stadium is not located immediately off the exit and fans will have to deal with significant congestion and many traffic lights.

Parking proves to be the biggest complaint of the Home Depot Center on the interwebs. I paid $15 for my spot on this very evening and I've heard that it can be as high as $20 for premium games. From the time that I entered the Home Depot Center complex, it probably took a good 5 minutes after paying the attendant and traveling down several roads to my final parking spot. This was without traffic, so I would allot some additional time if a bigger game is on the schedule. Exiting was a much more difficult task. It took me about 20 minutes to leave from my parking spot, but fans have mentioned that it takes much longer for more noteworthy games.

Los Angeles is a rather large, congested city, so I would recommend checking out the Metro Trip Planner site to see what combination of rail and bus you can utilize to get to the Home Depot Center.

I also spoke with a few fans who mentioned parking a bit away and walking 15 minutes to the venue. Another option that I heard of was to park at the previously mentioned "Off Campus Pub" where you can park for $10 and get a free beer.

I did enter the stadium rather quickly, but the Home Depot Center was one of the few stadiums I've visited with a rather elaborate security check. Not only is there a pair of guards at each turnstile, but you must also empty your pockets and go through a metal detector. It is a nuisance and does slow things down, but I'm more than willing to sacrifice a few minutes for everyone's safety.

Once you are in the stadium, you can get around the main concourses rather easily. Once you get near the scoreboard or south end, things really tighten up and it's tough to quickly get to anything. Adding to the congestion is the areas designated for those with disabilities. The security guards do all too good of a job making sure that you don't step over the line to take any photographs.

Return on Investment    4

I must say that I did experience some initial sticker shock when I saw the list prices for the various seating options throughout the Home Depot Center. If money is no issue, maybe you want to try the field seats for $200 apiece. At $125, a fan can sit in the club level, which offers some additional privacy and perks. The club level has 1,500 seats and there are also 42 luxury suites. Getting under $100.00, fans can get sideline seats for $55-$80, or upper sideline for $45. The lowest prices include the endlines for roughly $38 and the general admission section on the grassy berm for $30 during more crowded games.

At the end of the day, there are limited places that you can see live MLS soccer, and even fewer places where you can see one of the most storied MLS franchises that consistently fills the stadium, so any seat can be a sound investment. The fans make the atmosphere truly one of the best in all of LA sports, so even when the Galaxy are matched up with a lesser opponent, the experience is a worthwhile one.

Extras    3

The location of the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA allows it to cool down very quickly. Even on the hottest Southern California days, you'll experience rather comfortable temperatures at the game. The average high is about 80 degrees and the average low can swing 30 degrees to approximately 50.

The site of the stadium is much more than simply the soccer venue. It is also connected to a 2,500 seat cycling arena and 13,000 seat tennis stadium. It has hosted rugby matches, the Summer X Games, and Spike TV's television show "Pros vs Joes."

At the north end of the stadium, fans can spot the Wall of Legends. Here, fans will find plaques dedicated to the individuals that have made a mark on the Galaxy franchise. The most notable might be #13 Cobi Jones who played midfield for the team from 1996 through 2007, and was an assistant coach in 2008. Another is Mauricio Cienfuegos (#10), who was a Galaxy midfielder from 1996 to 2003. Lastly is Douglas Hamilton, former president and general manager of the club.

The Galaxy share the Home Depot Center with CD Chivas USA and the two teams participate in the Honda SuperClasico (aka "LA Derby"). This is basically annual "rivalry matches" that occur between the two clubs. With both teams having such loyal fan bases, this creates quite an interesting atmosphere.

While I really thought the music played through the loudspeakers often took away from the chants and songs that the fans were engaging in, there was an instance where I felt the music was appropriate. I really enjoy when a franchise embraces who they are or where they are, so I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the song "This is L.A." by the Briggs. The fans were extremely engaged in singing along to the chorus of the song:

"This is L.A. Our city, our home. Los Angeles, We never walk alone. Forever true we'll stay In tribute to our city, No matter where we go This is our home."

Final Thoughts

The Home Depot Center is widely regarded as one of the most reputable venues in all of American Soccer.

Due to the parameters of the FANFARE score, the Home Depot Center will drop some points in the rankings due to the high ticket prices, access, strict tailgating policies, and average food options. This should in no way inhibit your of scheduling your stadium journeys. The Galaxy and the Home Depot Center should remain atop any sports fan's list.

Even after the days of Donovan and Beckham, many stars will continue to don the Galaxy colors & perform at the Home Depot Center for years to come.

Follow Drew's travels through Southern California via username @big10drew on Twitter & Instagram.

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Crowd Reviews

In a Galaxy Not Far, Far Away

Total Score: 4.14

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 5

A not so long time ago, in a galaxy not far, far away, the year was 1996. Los Angeles, one of the most storied sports towns in the United States, was granted one of the ten charter franchises of Major League Soccer.

While the first fans may remember the Galaxy playing at the Rose Bowl, the team moved to a more modern $150 million facility in 2003. The capacity dropped from over 100,000 to a much more intimate 27,000. The fans responded positively, and the Home Depot Center has been filled ever since.

The stadium is located on the California State University, Dominguez Hills campus in Carson, CA. It
is approximately 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles and easily accessible from the 405 or 91
freeways. If Carson doesn't ring a bell, you may recognize it as the setting for movies such as "The Cable Guy," and "Gone in 60 Seconds." While the name leads to believe otherwise, the television show "Reno 911" is also filmed here and Carson was even the location of the "Hey Mickey" music video long before the MLS was ever created.

It is said that the Galaxy derived it nickname from Los Angeles, being home of the stars. Clearly, this was a much better choice than being home to the traffic or smog.

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Lodging

Carson Doubletree Hotel  (map it!)

2 Civic Plaza Dr

Carson, CA 90745

(310) 830-9200

http://doubletree1.hilton.com/en_US/dt/hotel/LGBCHDT-Doubletree-Hotel-Carson-Civic-Plaza-California/index.do

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