Sources: Investment groups pursuing MLS expansion club in San Diego

Several billionaire-backed investment groups are "pursuing an expansion franchise" in MLS that could "begin play" at San Diego State's Snapdragon Stadium as early as '24, according to sources cited by Mark Zeigler of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The group said to be furthest along "is locally based," while the others could "go it alone or coalesce into a single bid." A source said that "it's still early days" and that MLS has "not committed to expand beyond a 30th team, which it has provisionally pledged to Las Vegas." But MLS Commissioner Don Garber "did discuss the growing interest in San Diego at an owners' meeting last month," and local officials "privately confirmed they have been in regular contact with league headquarters and even held preliminary lease talks for use of Snapdragon Stadium, which is on schedule to open in August." SDSU built Snapdragon Stadium to "international soccer specifications," and they have "locker rooms, camera positions and other details that meet MLS standards." MLS historically has wanted expansion franchises to "build their own stadiums so they can control all of the revenue streams and mitigate operating losses from the soccer side." But a San Diego team playing at Snapdragon Stadium "would realize instant savings by not having to fork out $300 million or more for a new stadium." SDSU AD John David Wicker said that at MLS' request they "will offer flexible financial terms: either a traditional lease or an equity stake in the stadium that would unlock broader revenue opportunities" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/16).

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