LAFC Sports Launches Banc of California Stadium Entertainment; Names Adam Friedman As Division’s President

Adam Friedman
– Adam Friedman

With the countdown on to the first concert to be held at Los Angeles’ Banc of California Stadium, Tom Penn, co-owner and President of LAFC Sports, announced May 16 the formation of the Banc of California Stadium Entertainment (BOCS Entertainment), a division of LAFC Sports, to develop, operate and manage entertainment, major sporting and special events at the venue. Adam Friedman has been appointed as the BOCS Entertainment’s president and EVP of LAFC Sports. 

The new division will oversee all events at the stadium, other than MLS matches of the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC), with a focus on three main segments: concert and music festivals, sporting exhibitions, and corporate and private events. 

“With 20 to 25 games, with LAFC, you have another 320-odd days or more to fill. My role will be to oversee the folks who run all three segments and build a model that’s robust and to fill the facility with events as many days as possible during the year with these three segments in mind,” Friedman told Pollstar.  

Friedman, who has more than 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry including building some of the most iconic brands in the business as CEO of Nederlander Concerts, EVP/Division Head of House of Blues Concerts, and SVP of Universal Concerts, said the new position at BOCS Entertainment offered a unique opportunity.   

“What really turned me on [with] this and in order to put on a baseball cap again and to be part of a team, is the fact that you have ground floor entry to what will be, in my opinion, two outstanding, world renowned brands. It’s the brand of the football club itself, the Los Angeles Football Club, and it’s also the brand of the stadium. The team is already off to a magnificent start, not only in terms of winning but how its penetrated Los Angeles and the region and now the country. … There’s no question in my mind that this is going to be one of these iconic sports brands. At the same time, I have never seen a facility like this before. Especially a stadium. 

“To spend $350 million on an outdoor venue is unbelievable. The amenities are completely unique. The premium spaces are unique. The amount of detail that they spent on developing a project that would not only work for sports but live music events in terms of productions and sights and sounds, it’s really one of a kind. So when you put the two together, it’s a very powerful message. As you know, sports and music are symbiotic, and one drives the other in these types of facilities. 

“So, for me, to get in at the ground floor of something where I can help develop and grow two iconic brands at the same time, is quite frankly, for me, a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The stadium hosts its first concert event June 2 with the KIIS FM Wango Tango, starring Ariana Grande, Miguel, Janelle Monae, Marshmello, NF, Shawn Mendes and more. 
Earlier this week it was announced the Banc of California Stadium was confirmed as one of the 15 venues in the U.S. hosting the 2019 edition of the expanded Concacaf Gold Cup. Other events on the calendar include the venue’s first soccer friendly May 22 and a private event with Epic Games on June 12. 
“We expect this to be filled all year long with music events due to its size and the nature of how it was designed,” Friedman said. “We’re also focused on sports events and corporate events. And with respect to sports events … there’s obviously the field sports – exhibition soccer, rugby, lacrosse and things like that – but this is a perfect location in terms of the demographics of the city and the design of the facility for boxing and MMA, for Esports, extreme sports and a host of other national and local sporting events.

He added, “On the corporate event side, like Epic Games, we also have a multitude of conversations and very close to booking these large high profit events that include these massive global brands. And there are conferences private concerts, convention business, product launches, think Red Bull X-Fighters, that’s not one of them but it’s kind of analogous to what we’re looking at, all the way down to award shows and ceremonies, fashion shows. We’re also in dialogue with all of these folks right now.”

The venue was designed to be non-stadium-like in terms of the ability to put on a show – from load in and load out to the fan experience. 
“On the north end of the facility, where the stage will be, there are 3,000-odd seats that are demountable and these seats come out, they are placed elsewhere on site and it reveals the stage platform that is built in under the seating area,” Friedman said. 
“There are two things about this that are really, really smart and unique. One, having the stage platform where it is, from a view point of load in and load out, the stage platform actually abuts on stage right, the loading dock. So instead of where in most stadiums they have to bring the trucks out onto the pitch, which is both labor intensive and material cost, now the trucks just load out right onto the stage platform and load in and out from the location. Brilliant, quite frankly. Brings down cost, it’s efficient, etc. 
“From a fan experience, having that stage platform under that seating area sets the stage back so that the sightlines are better and thousands of seats are now available that would otherwise be killed. So, you have a greater sellable capacity, you have a better fan experience on the side of the stage because the stage is set back, as compared to folks just looking at the side of the stage and seeing a tower. They’re now seeing the artist front and center. … We like to think of it as it’s an outdoor arena because it’s designed to produce shows and host fans so they get that same arena experience.”
Friedman noted that the Banc of California is an open venue rather than using an exclusive promoter. 
“We’re open to all promoters and we’ll partner with talent and promoters that are interested. Wango Tango is June 2 and that’s with Goldenvoice. We have other opportunities that we’re talking about with Live Nation. We’re talking to other third-party promoters in some of the segment spaces, including Bollywood, Korean, Latin and Russian [events].
He added that when it comes to booking the stadium, the stadium has access to land around the facility, which makes it an attractive site for urban festivals. 
“So we’re going to have a lot of focus, not only on the main, headline top touring talent, which certainly we want to populate in the building, but we also have a lot of focus with working with these festival producers in giving them a multi-asset offering,” Friedman said. “We can offer up the stadium but we can also offer up the parking lots around us and some of the park land around us to create a multi-stage event. Some of the those have already pre-existed there, like FYF and Air + Style. But there’s a lot more [opportunities]. … We also have the ability to go into the L.A. Coliseum a number of times a year and book the coliseum. 
“Compared to the past for me, certainly I’ve had the leverage of having multiple buildings to route and in turn provide multi-city offers. But the idea of giving a multi-asset offer within the same city, within the same venue, that’s unique to me. I’ve never had an asset that’s had so much flexibility and so many assets to offer a producer or a promoter. So we’re going to be focused on [bringing] in the top talent but also try to round this out with offerings that leverage and utilize all of the land around us, not just the facility itself.”  
Tom Penn, co-owner and President of LAFC Sports, told Pollstar that Friedman was the right man for the job because of his incredible experience across so many different aspects of the entertainment space. 
Penn added, “He’s super well respected within all circles of Los Angeles entertainment and fits well culturally with our organization. He’s a team player, a leader and an expert, a true expert in the field. This is a different orbit that we’re in the music and hospitality and entertainment space. It’s different than sports so we needed an experienced and clever leader like Adam.”