Major League Soccer is coming to San Diego Thursday, awarding the city an expansion team that will debut in 2025. The unnamed franchise will play its home games at 35,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium, a venue shared by San Diego State Football, San Diego Wave FC, and the San Diego Legion of Major League Rugby (MLR). Flush with cash after landing an 11-year, $350-million extension this past offseason, San Diego Padres All-Star Manny Machado will join an ownership group led by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour, contributing to the team’s record $500-million expansion fee.
MLS has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1996, expanding its reach from 10 to 30 teams. The league has launched an aggressive expansion campaign in recent years, gaining a foothold in St. Louis, Charlotte, Austin, Nashville, Cincinnati, Miami, and Atlanta, among other new markets. MLS was able to parlay that growth into a new television deal, now streaming games on Apple TV+.
It won’t make up for losing the Chargers, who fled to Los Angeles years earlier, but San Diego sports fans have to be thrilled with Thursday’s announcement, eagerly anticipating the team’s arrival in 2025.
Formerly of the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers (the latter for only 66 games), Manny Machado signed with the Padres as a free agent in 2019, achieving All-Star recognition in 2021 and 2022.