San Diego Loyal SC responded this week to reports that a big-money group is on the cusp of bringing a MLS club to the city.
Chairman and owner Andrew Vassiliadis said of his team, which is part of USL Championship, “our plan is simple. We aren’t going anywhere.”
Various media outlets, including ESPN. have reported on the interest of billionaire Mohamed Mansour of the Mansour Group, in partnership with the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, in establishing an MLS expansion team in San Diego, to play at Snapdragon Stadium by 2025.
Vassiliadis, in a Wednesday statement, thanked Loyal fans for their “unwavering support” during the Loyal’s four seasons in San Diego. He went on to say:
We have become aware of an independent ownership group that intends to launch their own club in San Diego. Our unwavering commitment is to the vision of growing soccer in this city, and we want to make that abundantly clear.
Landon Donovan, the entire San Diego Loyal team and I are dedicated to this mission, and we will continue to work tirelessly to achieve it. Our passion for soccer and for our community will never falter.
San Diego, we are one with you. Our love for this city runs deep. This is our home, and we are proud to be part of its rich and diverse fabric.
Paul Tenorio, a soccer reporter for The Athletic web site (paywall), told CBS News that the expansion fee to launch a San Diego club is expected to be $500 million, with $100 million more to be spent on Snapdragon Stadium, though the venue is less than a year old.
“That means millions of dollars behind this ownership group,” he said.
The success of San Diego Wave FC, which began as an expansion club last year, also may be playing a part, Tenorio told CBS.
“I think MLS is probably fairly confident that they can pull a big crowd, partly because the NWSL recently expanded to San Diego,” he said, while also pointing to the Wave’s record opening crowd at Snapdragon in March.
MLS has two conferences, Eastern and Western. Adding an expansion club in the west would even up the divide, at 15 teams per conference. California has three franchises – the L.A.- based Galaxy and LAFC, and San Jose.