Galaxy supporters welcome the team back to Dignity Health Sports Park after a year of no fans in the stadium. Photo by LA Galaxy.
By Robert Rios, Campus Editor
Updated Saturday 11:47 a.m. Editor’s Note: This story has been edited to include the full story on the Galaxy connection to CSUDH.
Space is very limited at CSUDH, which is why there has been so much construction going on the past couple of years to give the campus a fresh look. There is no parking structure being made right now but next to one of our lots sits the home of the winningest club of all time in American soccer: Los Angeles Galaxy.
As someone who loves the Galaxy and submerges themselves in getting an education, it was a revelation for me to arrive to see both the campus and stadium. Since middle school in 2011, I started to like the Galaxy when they began their dynasty. Going to school and seeing my favorite soccer team doubled the excitement of my college experience.
However, I have noticed the lack of blue, white, and gold around the school walkways with students. Once I settled into my first year of college it became apparent even with the Galaxy’s home turf smack dab in the middle of the parking lot, many Toros have not connected to the team.
With the Galaxy historically being the winning team in Los Angeles, the club does have a footprint on campus as the Galaxy has its crest shown as a contributor in the SBS building and has sports memorabilia hanging in the DH Sports lounge. The Galaxy has sent out representatives very sporadically to school events such as club rush or watch parties at the sports lounge which they did once in 2019. Plus, there have been multiple CSUDH night games to honor the school and give students discounted tickets.
The club in the early 2010s ruled the soccer landscape by winning three out of four MLS Cups from 2011 to 2014. Things may have been different at CSUDH before but after players such as David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and Robbie Keane left the team, the Galaxy began to falter, missing the playoffs for three straight years and finishing in last place in 2017. This may be a reason why there has been a lack of Galaxy fanship at CSUDH as most LA sports fanatics love a winning team.
Sadly, I have seen less Galaxy gear worn around the school than would have been expected with the team a stone’s throw away. The Galaxy started in Major League Soccer in 1996 and showcased known players such as Jorge Campus, Carlos Ruiz and Cobi Jones. Otherwise, it is odd that to me there was a lack of interest.
There are many reasons why a student at CSUDH would not care or know about the Galaxy which includes not winning, lack of interest in soccer, and a heavy market flooded with world soccer fans. In addition, the now very popular Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC), has garnered much attention from Southern Californians who wanted an alternative to just the Galaxy.
“I think the Galaxy can do a great job if they choose to promote the club to students and if the students decide to support,” Justin Estrada, an incoming Toro and Galaxy fan studying in sports entertainment and hospitality management said. “[Students] would be really interested in the team and would see it as a team they have to go see and support especially because the team is located right next to the campus.”
Besides sharing athletic facilities and the now named Dignity Health Sports Park hosting commencement ceremonies since 2004, there have been players who played for the Galaxy and attend CSUDH at some point. Notable players include Kevin Hartman, the new goalkeeper coach for the Galaxy this season and Gyasi Zardes who was with the Galaxy from 2012 to 2017 and graduated in 2017, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from CSUDH.
Before landing on the hills, the Galaxy floated around LA County first playing most of their home games at the historic Rose Bowl in Pasadena and sometimes at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Galaxy set up shop at Dominguez on June 7, 2003. Former President and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) Tim Leiweke thought it was key to have the stadium built next to the university.
“We must create a partnership with CSUDH that will show how a major benefit to the students, the faculty and alumni of the university,” Leiweke said in a statement in a 2000 LA Times article.
Presently, the Toros and Galaxy both are in a rebuilding stage literally and figuratively. The university is adding new builds and expanding student housing. The team updated its supporter’s section and has added new players such as Mexican star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. With more available living at school, the Galaxy will look to bring in new fans to the stadium in the next coming years.
“The expansion of the school I think will provide a ton of opportunities for us,” Chris Thomas, Sr. Director of Digital Media & Marketing for the Galaxy said “Especially living on campus and going to be there on Saturday nights. Our integration into the Carson community at large, which includes the campus which has been a big priority for us the last year or two. It will definitely be a big part of our marketing effort once everything comes back online.”
Thomas also added that they are “excited” to continue working with CSUDH and hope when the time is right to “find avenues to promote the brand on campus.” With the school enhancing its living and learning environment, students should want to look for a better way to spend their time on campus when not studying and possibly catch a game that would add to the enjoyment of college life.
For some students who were already fans, it gives a sense of pride to see their team next to their school where they can see their favorite players and feel closer to the club to say, “look at that building, that’s where my club plays.”
“With going to games, it certainly enhances the fan experience in general,” Jason Perlera, a CSUDH 2020 Alumni who graduated with a bachelor’s in sociology said. “It’s completely different than watching it at home. With college experience, I’m not so sure. Maybe if all your friends in a class decide to go to a game or go out as a community or club to a game. But it does enhance the game and the club in general. Especially if you sit next to a supporters group.”
Getting an education and going to experience new things should be some of the things that someone like me wanted to have in college. I did not meet many other Galaxy fans while physically at CSUDH but it did not hinder my college experience.
“Going to a game would be part of the college experience especially because of the stadium being literally right next to the school, Estrada said. “It’s like the Galaxy being the official pro soccer team of Dominguez Hills. I think if students would go to a game and see the atmosphere, not just the game but see how the fans show how much that club means to them they would be intrigued in a way and maybe come back for a game. Like if they had nothing to do on a Saturday night why not hit up a Galaxy game just to sit back, enjoy a game with friends and with some food.”