SAN ANTONIO (Dec. 22, 2015) – Spurs Sports & Entertainment (SS&E) today announced they have reached an agreement with Bexar County and the City of San Antonio to operate a soccer franchise at Toyota Field in 2016. The deal is part of a collaborative effort by the city, county and SS&E to pursue bringing Major League Soccer (MLS) to the Alamo City. The announcement was made at a press conference held at Toyota Field this morning.
Toyota Field, a soccer-specific stadium in Northeast San Antonio, was purchased by the City of San Antonio and Bexar County for $18 million. As part of the agreement, SS&E has donated $3 million to Morgan’s Wonderland, a special needs theme park established by Gordon Hartman. SS&E agreed to a 20-year lease to run all operations within Toyota Field, while also pursuing an MLS franchise. The stadium opened in April of 2013 and has a capacity of 8,500.
Spurs Sports & Entertainment plans to operate a USL franchise in 2016. The USL is the largest professional soccer league in North America and features strong leadership and established ownership groups. The competitive league is comprised of successful independent teams as well as MLS-owned and operated franchises. Five of the last seven new MLS franchises played in the USL.
A team website has been established at USLSanAntonio.com, and fans can follow the newest professional franchise in the Alamo City on Twitter at @USLSanAntonio and on Facebook by liking USL San Antonio. Fans interested in being a part of the inaugural season can place their $50 deposit for 2016 season tickets online at USLSanAntonio.com or by calling 210-444-5MLS.
“This deal wouldn’t be possible without the incredible support from both the City of San Antonio and Bexar County,” said Rick Pych, Spurs Sports & Entertainment President of Business Operations. “We are very excited to continue the growth of soccer in San Antonio, and we plan to operate a USL franchise as part of a proven path to Major League Soccer. We look forward to bringing the highest level of soccer to San Antonio.”
“The City and County’s purchase of Toyota Field is the first step toward bringing a Major League Soccer team to San Antonio,” said Mayor Ivy R. Taylor. “Spurs Sports & Entertainment is recognized as one of the best professional sports businesses and we are fortunate to have them as a partner in this effort. Today’s announcement marks significant progress toward achieving our shared goal.”
“We have taken a major and historic step toward acquiring an MLS franchise that will put Bexar County on the world stage,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. “Through this unique partnership with the City of San Antonio, we are proving we are ready to support a professional team representing the most popular sport in the world.”
"We applaud the cooperation and community-minded approach that led to this agreement," said Gordon Hartman, owner of the San Antonio Scorpions and CEO of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation. "We believe Soccer for a Cause, our effort to bring exciting professional soccer to San Antonio and to benefit non-profit Morgan's Wonderland and the special-needs community, has clearly achieved its goals."
SS&E will also operate the South Texas Area Regional (STAR) Soccer Complex, which is located adjacent to Toyota Field. STAR Soccer Complex includes 13 fields that provide resources for many local youth soccer organizations and adult recreational leagues.
The team name for the new USL San Antonio franchise along with a club crest and jersey design, will be announced in the near future.
The USL is a vital piece of the growth and development of soccer in North America, on and off the field. With 24 clubs in the 2015 season, the USL looks to expand strategically with strong ownership groups that share the league’s passion and vision, in markets that are positioned for long-term success. The USL has previously announced the addition of clubs in the Rio Grande Valley, Cincinnati, Lehigh Valley, Orlando and Kansas City for the 2016 season, and Reno for the 2017 season. Formed in 2011, the league was known as USL PRO prior to being rebranded “the United Soccer League (USL)” before the 2015 season.
About Spurs Sports & Entertainment
Spurs Sports & Entertainment is the premier provider of sports and entertainment in South Texas. SS&E owns and operates the San Antonio Spurs (NBA), San Antonio Rampage (AHL), San Antonio Stars (WNBA), Austin Spurs (NBA Development League) and also manages the day-to-day operations of the AT&T Center.