Many people are quite familiar with the old phrase that says that good things happen to those who wait. The city of San Diego has been waiting for some great sports news for quite some time and it looks like their wait is over. This past week, MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced that the MLS is expanding to San Diego and adding its 30th team to the league.
The MLS is expanding to San Diego.
Not only does San Diego have some of the best weather in North America, but its proximity to the border with Mexico also makes it a perfect location to create a new MLS franchise. With a rich soccer history (remember the San Diego Sockers? I do and used to watch them play outdoors at the old Jack Murphy Stadium) and current professional soccer teams already in town (SD Loyal-USL and SD Wave FC-NWSL), the new MLS team in San Diego will arrive with a built-in fan base before their very first match in 2025.
The new MLS team in San Diego will also play at the new Snapdragon Stadium and share the facilities with the SD Wave FC club. This symbiotic relationship will foster even stronger ties locally in San Diego between the NWSL and MLS. Even more importantly for the new MLS franchise, Snapdragon Stadium sits on the campus of San Diego State University and the local students should be a target fan base demographic given the fact that soccer is huge in southern California (no bias here but I’m also an SDSU alumnus so I have a bit of insight on this.)
The San Diego MLS investor group has a very diverse background.
While MLS Commissioner Don Garber has shown his full support for bringing Major League Soccer to San Diego, the real driving force has been a diverse investment group whose goal is to fully expand the Beautiful Game to America’s Finest City. Led by investor and philanthropist Mohamed Mansour, the San Diego MLS ownership team also includes a large investment stake from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. This tribe has called the San Diego area home for thousands of years and they will be the first Native American tribe to have an ownership stake in a professional soccer franchise.
With the trend of professional athletes expanding their investment portfolios into other sports, San Diego Padres’ infielder Manny Machado has also joined the new MLS team ownership group and brings name recognition to this franchise. Without an NFL, NBA, or NHL presence in San Diego, the MLS expansion will help further establish this city as a soccer town.
San Diego offers a strategic place to expand international soccer competitions.
San Diego is located only minutes from the border with Mexico and given that a Liga MX team also exists just minutes away from Snapdragon Stadium (Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente or just Tijuana or Los Xolos), the potential for future friendly matches on a major scale will now exist with an MLS franchise nearly co-located with a Liga MX team. Can anyone say a San Diego-Tijuana derby is not that far away down the road?
Choosing San Diego as the 30th MLS franchise simply makes a lot of good sense and will help expand the league footprint across the border and potentially bring the professional U.S. and Mexican top soccer leagues even further together in the future. As a wise man once said, “Stay classy San Diego.”