Cesar HernandezMay 18, 2023, 01:31 PM ETRead 4 minutes

Overview of last year’s NWSL match between San Diego Wave FC and Angel City FC at Snapdragon Stadium.Kelvin Kuo-USA Today Sports

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber announced Thursday that the city of San Diego has been awarded an expansion franchise, expanding the league to 30 teams.

The news was revealed at an event at Snapdragon Stadium, which is slated to be the 35,000-capacity home of the San Diego franchise in 2025. MLS’s latest expansion team will be owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour, the Siquan Group. The Kumeiai Nation (now the first Native American tribe to own a US professional soccer team) and San Diego Padres star Manny Machado.

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“We are thrilled to welcome San Diego to Major League Soccer as our 30th team,” Garber said in a press release Thursday. “With its youthful energy, great diversity and the fact that soccer is an important part of everyday life for so many people, we believe San Diego will be an amazing MLS market for many years to come. Our vision is to build a club that inspires and connects soccer fans across the city and region.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to join the San Diego MLS ownership group,” Machado said in a press release. “I will continue to plant roots in this amazing community that means so much to me and build relationships with amazing fans.”

Additional owners include Zephyr Partners Brad Termini and Dream Rights’ Tom Vernon and Dan Dickinson. Managed by Mansoor’s London-based firm Man Capital, Right to Dream is a Ghana-based academy that also owns Danish top flight Nordsjaelland. MLS players are graduates of the Right to Dream Academy, including New England Revolution’s Emmanuel Boateng and FC Dallas’ Emma Tumasi.

Additional Dream Entitlement locations have been built in Denmark and Egypt, with plans for a San Diego-based academy in the future.

“We look forward to introducing Right to Dream’s unique development approach and unparalleled soccer expertise to San Diego and MLS by identifying talent from within the county and beyond, providing tangible benefits to the community,” Mansour said. In the year He revealed that seven Right to Right to Academy graduates have participated in the 2022 World Cup.

Former LAFC president Tom Penn has been named CEO of the new MLS franchise, with a name and crest to be revealed at a later date.

San Diego recently surpassed Las Vegas in the race for the league’s 30th team. In February, Garber said both cities were “30 very promising opportunities.” Last month, ESPN reported that the San Diego team was getting more momentum. According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, the expansion fee for an MLS franchise is “around $500 million.”

Former league commissioner Doug Logan said in 2016 In 1996, San Diego began playing in the MLS nearly three decades after the city announced it was a “prime candidate” for expansion. Since then, more and more rumors and reports have surfaced regarding teams interested in bringing the sport’s top level to the Southern California city.

In the year In 2018, a year after the NFL Chargers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles, the San Diego State University Chargers won a local election to redevelop the Mission Valley site they once occupied. Built Snapdragon Stadium. A rival “SoccerCity” initiative led by U.S. men’s national team icon Landon Donovan aimed to attract the next MLS franchise, but ultimately lost in local elections.

Snapdragon Stadium was constructed and opened in August 2022 and is currently home to SDSU’s football program, Major League Rugby’s San Diego Legion and the National Women’s Soccer League’s San Diego Wave. In September 2022, the Wave broke the NWSL single-game attendance record at Snapdragon Stadium with 32,000 packed for a regular season game against Angel City FC. A month later, the Wave set an NWSL playoff attendance record with 26,215 watching the Chicago Red Stars beat the Chicago Red Stars 2–1.

After recently hosting a soccer friendly between Liga MX Club America and Club Tijuana in March 2023, the Snapdragon Stadium will continue to host the sport this summer with the men’s national team exhibition and CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final between Mexico and Cameroon on June 10. July 12. On July 25, Manchester United will play Wrexham AFC (owned by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney) in a friendly at Mission Valley.

Regarding further expansion in the MLS, Garber hinted that the MLS could go beyond 30. “I believe we can support more than 30 teams,” the league commissioner said earlier this year. [U.S.-based] Leagues are this size or close to it.

San Diego Loyal, who play in the men’s second-tier professional soccer club in the United States, are reportedly not participating in the MLS project. With Donovan at the helm as EVP of football operations, the team said in a statement earlier this month from chairman and owner Andrew Vassiliadis: “We’re not going anywhere.”

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