Major League Soccer will announce San Diego as its 30th team on Thursday in a news conference at Snapdragon Stadium with the latest expansion franchise, which would start play in 2025, paying a reported $500 million entry fee.
The franchise, with an ownership group headed by the London-based Mansour Group and the local Sycuan tribe, will play at the 35,000-capacity stadium on the campus of San Diego State University. It opened last fall as the on-campus home for the Aztecs football team and is also home to the NWSL’s San Diego Wave and Major League Rugby’s San Diego Legion. The stadium will host the 2023 World Lacrosse Championship this summer
The last hurdle for MLS approval was a lease agreement with San Diego State’s new stadium. The LA Galaxy, LAFC and San Jose Earthquakes already hail from the California and the addition of San Diego will take the state above Texas for the home of the most MLS franchises.
“Based on the soccer we’re having this summer, it shows that this venue is truly built for great soccer, and getting MLS is the last real piece of the puzzle. We’re excited to get to the finish line,” said SDSU Athletic Director John David Wicker.
The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation has been interested in bringing MLS to San Diego for more than a year, but it was not until last summer that a suitable investment partner emerged in Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour. He heads the Mansour Group, a global consortium that also owns FC Nordsjaelland, currently in second place in Denmark’s top soccer league.
The search for MLS’ 30th franchise originally focused on Sacramento, which was granted a team in 2019 with plans to start in 2022. But after its lead financer pulled out ahead of a planned stadium groundbreaking, MLS turned its attention instead to Las Vegas. MLS Commissioner Don Garber said last fall that Vegas was the front runner to be the 30th club before those plans got muddled and San Diego jumped to the front of the queue.
Along with the NWSL, San Diego also has a successful USL franchise in town with the San Diego Loyal, which boasts MLS and U.S. national team legend Landon Donovan as its executive vice president and former coach. The Loyal said last week the team plans to continue operations and will not be leaving the city as MLS comes in.