Exclusive: Beckham Academy Closure Derails Canadian Soccer Team’s Dreams

In a follow-up to Sunday’s story about the unheralded closure of the David Beckam Academy in Carson comes word the shuttering was so quiet they weren’t even telling those who had registered for camp that it had closed.

Turns out they didn’t tell local hotels either: I received an e-mail from Natasha Hamilton, wife of the Lloyd Hamilton in the story Wednesday night, observing the Doubletree Hotel in Carson where they had booked rooms, was similarly unaware of the closure.

Yet, PR debacle aside, the termination of the David Beckham Academy is a loss to the South Bay (and wider) community as the following e-mail I received vividly illustrates:

To Nick:

Thank you for finally mentioning that the DBA had officially closed. I knew about this closure back in November. When I heard this news I was very devastated. One of the reasons is that the DBA had a School Outreach Program that provided, free of charge, soccer skills to public schools.

My school, Panorama City Elementary in Panorama City, was fortunate enough to be able to participate in it last year. We started to do it again this year. One group was able to experience it. But, the 2nd group wasn’t able to because the DBA closed a week prior to them coming out to our school again. The students at my school were extremely saddened by this news. They were looking forward in experiencing soccer with the DBA Coaches. The DBA coaches were excellent!

Last year, I even made a presentation board so that people in our district would see the great things that our students were doing in relation to sports. A lot of those people were very impressed. Our students learned a lot from the DBA coached about soccer and fitness/health in general. Too bad they won’t get to experience that again.

Well, at least some of our students had the chance last year, and this year. But, they will surely be missed. I hope that AEG has plans to still use the field as some type of academy. Perhaps they might be able to continue the School Outreach Program that was in place at the DBA.

Always in soccer,

Carlisa Perdomo

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Mia Hamm & Nomar Garciaparra to Sign Autographs, Give Tickets Away Sunday in Torrance

i-2a93ae4e5c1c835f99cf0bc27e96ece5-hdcmianomar.pngU.S. soccer icon Mia Hamm and her husband, former Red Sox and Dodger great Nomar Garciaparra, host a charity soccer game Jan. 16 at Carson’s Home Depot Center.

The ticket giveaway is from 1-2 p.m. at Sport Chalet, 21305 Hawthorne Blvd., at Del Amo Village (that’s at the intersection of Torrance & Hawthorne boulevards).

The free tickets are for the third Annual Mia Hamm & Nomar Garciaparra Celebrity Soccer Challenge set for 3 p.m. Jan. 16 at Home Depot Center on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills. One ticket will be given to each of the first 100 people in line. The store will sell tickets to the event priced at $20 all weekend between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are also available via TicketMaster.

The charity soccer match benefits Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and the Mia Hamm Foundation. The nonprofit foundation raises funds and awareness for bone marrow transplant patients and their families. Mia’s late brother, Garrett, died in 1997 from a bone marrow disease. More than $250,000 has been raised since the event began.

Confirmed challenge participants include U.S. Women’s National Team greats Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly, Galaxy icon Cobi Jones, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, Lakers point guard Jordan Farmar, Olympic volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh and Chivas USA’s Gerson Mayen. Other Galaxy and Chivas USA players have yet to be confirmed.

From the event press release:

At halftime, patients who were suffering from leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases will be introduced in person for the very first time to their bone marrow donors. The donor and recipient meetings will recognize all those who have given hope to patients in need of a life-saving transplant by joining the National Marrow Donor Program Registry. Fans in attendance will be given the opportunity to register and become donors themselves at the City of Hope Bone Marrow Registry on the concourse.

Said Hamm:

“This event is a great atmosphere for fans of soccer, sports, celebrities, and music. It is more important than ever to bring our diverse community together to ensure people in need are given the best chance at a donor match. We hope to increase the number of registrants this year and find another successful match.”

For more check out the the foundation’s Facebook page.

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Guest Blogger: One Galaxy Fan’s Rant at Home Depot Center Management

Douglas Morino is a reporter at the Daily Breeze in Torrance who attended last weekend’s Galaxy-AC Milan game in Carson as part of the capacity crowd.

I asked him to write about his experience as a fan; he does not paint a pretty picture.

What my friend and I, along with hundreds of other soccer fans, experienced Sunday night at Home Depot Center was nothing short of outrageous.

I expected the bad traffic.

What I didn’t expect was it to take us two hours to drive from the Avalon Boulevard off-ramp to the Home Depot Center parking lot. It was clear from the beginning the powers that be were unprepared for the influx of soccer fans descending upon the HDC.

I can deal with long lines for overpriced beer.

But outside the ticket gates closest to the tennis stadium, there were hundreds of people – literally, hundreds – lined up waiting to enter. The line was a dozen people thick and
stretched to the parking lot. The scene was unsettling. At that point, the match was already underway.

Frustrated, we went to the opposite end of the stadium, where the line to get in was shorter. We walked into the stadium 10 minutes after kickoff.

We had tickets in the general admission area – first come, first served – and by the time we reached the section it was clear there were no open seats. We stood for a while, along with dozens of other fans who were venting their frustrations at security guards and ushers. Who could blame them? It was hot, crowded and there was no where to sit.

I looked to the press box with envy as I envisioned a colleague sitting comfortably, maybe enjoying a cold drink and air conditioning, as he observed the match from the 50-yard line and typed away on his laptop.

Around the 25th minute we sat in fold-out chairs behind the general admission section along with about a dozen other people. We were immediately told to leave, and the argument with stadium officials would last until the final whistle blew.

After halftime, people continued to scramble to find a place to sit, or even stand. Some seats lining the section remained empty the entire match, and security guards and ushers would not allow them to be filled. The growing crowd continued to protest.

Security, not surprisingly, was having no part of it. They told us to leave the section, they told us to take it up with customer service, then they threatened to kick us out. By this time, the crowd behind the section had grown substantially – and so had their anger. Security called at least one sheriff’s deputy to the scene. It was obvious they had oversold that section and the entire stadium. I wondered were the Fire Marshall was to enforce any fire code.

Finally, in the 70th minute, a sympathetic security guard intervened, and using verbal force, cleared some space and found us a few seats in the general admission section. Unfortunately, many who paid to get into the section were left standing, far removed from the action on the field and in the stands.

Trying to get in the stadium was one thing. Trying to get out was something completely different.

After the final whistle blew, an elderly man took a break from the massive herd trying to leave the section and sat down in an empty seat. A young female security guard promptly told him to stand up. People passing by spoke up in defense of the old man.

“I don’t have to take any of your (expletive),” she shouted.

We finally made it outside and literally ran to our car to avoid the impending onslaught of traffic. I’ve been to packed Dodger playoff games, BCS bowl games, and sporting events in the Developing World, and nothing compared to the disorganization and blatant disrespect being forced upon paying customers Sunday in Carson.

My friend and I drove out of the stadium parking lot that night, vowing never to return.

It seems Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns and operates the stadium, as well as the Galaxy, keep finding ways to drive new fans like Morino away. Incidentally, a press box colleague (who arrived late to the game) had a very similar experience with the traffic control (or total lack thereof outside the stadium) calling it “complete chaos.” And power hungry security at the stadium is another recurring theme, too. I’d be interested in hearing from other fans and AEG officials are welcome to respond as well in the comment section.

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U.S. to Play Sweden Jan. 24 in Carson

U.S. Soccer announced today its customary new year friendly at Home Depot Center Jan. 24 following a week-long U.S. Men’s National Team training camp.

The 5:30 p.m. game will air live on Fox Soccer Channel and Galavision.

The U.S. beat Sweden 2-0 last January in a game that saw the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan set the all-time U.S. scoring record. The U.S. is making its sixth visit to Home Depot Center where it has a 4-0-1 record.

Next year is a big one for the U.S. with CONCACAF Final Round qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the 2009 Confederations Cup.

Tickets, priced between $18 and $60, go on sale Monday.

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Final Result: Wizards at Chivas USA

Was magician David Copperfield in the house for the second half?

Despite a disappearing act worthy of a prime time special, Chivas USA hung grimly onto their two-goal half time advantage and salvaged a crucial 2-1 victory, overcoming a pretty Josh Wolff bicycle kick with 20 minutes to go.

With both Colorado and Real Salt Lake winning today and temporarily climbing above them in the standings, Chivas USA needed all three points to maintain their tenuous grip on second place in the Western Conference and remain just two points above the pair nipping at their heels by night’s end. Chivas USA even managed to close the gap to four points on leaders the Houston Dynamo, who could only tie 1-1 today with FC Toronto. There are four games left in the season for Chivas USA.

Back with more later from the locker rooms.

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