UCLA announced major news on Tuesday, as a $5 million donation from the Annenberg Foundation will go towards a new soccer stadium for the university.
The stadium, to be named Wallis Annenberg Stadium, is expected to cost $10 million altogether, with the university soliciting donations to cover the remainder of the costs. Construction is expected to begin in the fall, with the project on the 3,000 capacity facility to take place in stages depending on the amount of funding that’s come in.
To build a brand-new stadium to house the men’s and women’s NCAA teams, as well as offer facilities for the college’s club teams, is a significant step for the Bruins. For both NCAA programs, already among the elite around the U.S., having a new facility, complete with amenities for spectators, full gameday locker room facilities and stadium lighting, should boost the Bruins’ profile even more and help them in recruitment wars. We’ve seen with college football, for example, that top-of-the-line facilities often play a role in recruits choosing particular programs, and this could boost UCLA’s chances that much more.
The stadium project also potentially boosts the status of soccer at UCLA. One of the most decorated college athletics programs already, putting in the work on infrastructure should keep soccer forefront in the minds of those on campus. Soccer may not rival football and basketball in the pecking order, but keeping facilities modern should help ensure the health of the program overall.
And finally, it’s notable that the university is planning to build the stadium entirely with private money. Given the issues with funding public universities the past 15 years, a soccer stadium project, even one that potentially impacted students involved in club soccer, would be a non-starter with public money used. But with the Annenberg Foundation kicking off the project by chipping in half the cost, and the university soliciting the rest of the funding through private means, makes the project more palatable politically while also ensuring private investment in UCLA athletics doesn’t only go to football and basketball.
Between the future LA Rams stadium and LAFC’s new soccer stadium, we’re entering a new era of stadium construction in Los Angeles. It may not have the same reach as the pro teams, but count UCLA’s new soccer stadium in that boom.