A-League clubs needing inspiration? Look no further than new MLS outfit LAFC, which has successfully forged a fan-driven club at a brilliant, tech-savvy boutique home stadium.
“The stalls in the bathroom, not unlike a parking garage where you have green or red signals, have the technology so you’re not guessing and touching the doors to figure which ones are open.
“We’re working through all this to make the guest experience as easy as possible.
"Operationally we’re trying to keep fans healthy and for them to feel safe,” Lau adds.
It’s an MLS club that’s challenging crosstown rivals Galaxy and authentic to LA.
For instance, the fan after-parties up on the sunset decks have become one of the hottest tickets in LA (“it just grew organically and the word’s kinda got out,” notes Lau.)
And LAFC, rather like A-League clubs Victory and Wanderers, soon found a raucous fanbase whose color and noise are attracting fans who may not be rusted-on MLS aficionados in LA.
At the heart of LAFC's (Los Angeles Football Club) ethos are the fans and their ‘experience’ at home matches in the MLS.
With its safe standing, the "3252" active support end refers to the number of seats at the supporters' end (and if you add up 3 + 2 + 5 + 2 it comes to 12, the 12th man, geddit?).
What’s more, it’s only US$20 for a spot inside the all-singing, all-dancing, LAFC supporter group with no signs of over-zealous security staff (how does that compare to your A-League club?)
Interestingly, a group of LAFC fans was guests of Borussia Dortmund before the club's MLS adventure began.
The Bundesliga outfit invited LAFC fans to the Signal Iduna Park to witness their "Yellow Wall" and gain insights into what it takes to build a fan culture in a league that has always put fans first.
In a nod to Germany, LAFC brought in beer jets that can fill six beers in seven seconds with extraordinary precision.
“We did some design sessions with the 3252 fans in 2017 before we opened the stadium,” says Lau.
The beer jets are also used at the Allianz Arena in Munich, one of the world’s most eye-catching stadium designs.
The Banc stadium food comes from local LA restaurant partners that are already popular with LAFC fans in the city.
“We sat down with them [LAFC fans] to find out what they wanted from their guest experience. Everything from the bars to network connectivity" says Lau.
The Banc’s upload speeds are said to be excellent for posting live video streams.
“And we asked our supporters, you tell us what the club’s app needs to have. What you see today on the LAFC app came from the input from 3252.
“The app is highly specific, but it works really well.”
Their MLS app’s next version is currently in dev.
Debates about boutique stadia in the A-League have been going on for years. Lau says the "scarcity" factor of a 22,000 capacity stadium is a plus for LA's MLS outfit.
It’s a potent mix at LAFC.
Snap-fresh fan engagement, a smart-tech, boutique stadium experience are the cornerstones of LAFC’s success to date as a new MLS franchise.