Snapdragon Stadium and Record-Setting Expansion Fee Keys to San Diego’s Inclusion as Major League Soccer’s 30th Franchise

May 24, 2023
Patrick Rishe

As Major League Soccer (MLS) continues to grow and gain popularity in the United States, the recent announcement of San Diego becoming the league’s 30th franchise marks a new era in the sport. Patrick Rishe, the host of Suite Talk: The Business Behind Sports, hailed the move as a victory for the vibrant San Diego community, although the announcement wasn’t as straightforward as it might seem, with Las Vegas being a strong contender.

What factors led to San Diego winning out?

A strong ownership group, robust local fan and corporate support, and, critically, a high-quality facility all led to the decision to award the franchise to San Diego. The Snapdragon Arena in San Diego ticks all these boxes, offering optimal summer weather and a size capable of accommodating 35,000 fans, ideal for soccer games. Hosting the San Diego Wave of the National Women’s Soccer League and other matches, the facility has proven its ability to excel in such events.

But what about Las Vegas?

Las Vegas has been a hotbed of sports activity lately, committing to building a state-of-the-art stadium to lure MLB’s Athletics away from Oakland. No such commitment was in the offering for this Major League Soccer expansion bid, and with The Snapdragon Arena an already proven winner, it made the San Diego an easy decision.

Money talks.

Adding to San Diego’s advantages, the presence of a committed billionaire owner, who has invested a record-breaking expansion fee of $500 million, significantly bolstered San Diego’s bid. “That sets all kinds of Major League Soccer records and is $175 million more than the $325 million paid by Charlotte in 2019,” Rishe said. “So, the combination of having a ready-to-go, made-to-order stadium and Snapdragon, wonderful facility to host Major League Soccer, combined with an over-the-top price paid in an expansion fee by an Egyptian billionaire owner, these are what push San Diego across the finish line in the next and 30th Major League Soccer franchise.”

Article written by James Kent

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