San Diego’s MLS Team Begins Road to 2025

October 25, 2023

Alejandro Canelón

Last Friday, Major League Soccer unveiled the identity of its newest expansion team, San Diego FC. The occasion celebrated a much-anticipated moment for San Diegans as the club continues to work toward its debut in the 2025 season. The name, crest, and team’s identity were unveiled in front of a crowd of 5,000 excited fans.

San Diego FC now has more than a year to position their brand and engage fans in the region – plenty of time to build community and encourage fans to join the club at Snapdragon Stadium, which they will share with San Diego State football and the NWSL’s San Diego Wave FC.

San Diego FC’s 20-year lease – signed directly with San Diego State University – gives the club the first pick of dates for home games, “after San Diego State football and concerts, and ahead of the San Diego Wave”. In this $200,000 per game lease (with percent increases in years five, seven, and nine), San Diego FC keeps all parking and merchandise proceeds and 80% of concessions.

It goes without saying, but providing affordable ticket prices and an excellent game day experience will be crucial for the club. We’re picturing Mexican food stands or even the signing of a Mexican player to help build initial interest (can you imagine “San Memo Ochoa” playing in San Diego?).

On Friday, more than 5,000 fans attended the team’s Brand Reveal Festival outside Snapdragon Stadium where the club “set an MLS record for merchandise sales at a single event.” The beginning couldn’t have been more successful for an expansion team and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

San Diego’s Pro Soccer History

In 1978, the San Diego Sockers became the first professional soccer team in the area en route to a successful run that saw the team win various championships in different leagues like the North American Soccer League’s Indoor Championship, the Major Indoor Soccer League, and the Continental Indoor Soccer League. The Sockers are still around and compete in the Major Arena Soccer League.

The aforementioned San Diego Wave, a team that began playing in the 2022 NWSL season, has leveraged the region’s culture and star-power en route to this season’s NWSL Shield and (at time of publishing) the semifinal round of the NWSL Playoffs, presented by Bud Light. Icons like Alex Morgan, Naomi Girma (finalist for the MVP & Defender of the Year) and Kailen Sheridan (finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year) led the Wave to the league’s highest average attendance with more than 20,000 thousand fans per game at Spandragon Stadium.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the now-shuttered San Diego Loyal, which made their debut in the USL Championship in 2020 and made the playoffs in each of its three seasons. In the wake of the impending San Diego MLS announcement, the team announced in August that the 2023 season would be the club’s last.

The Loyal played at Torero Stadium, a 6,000-seat facility located on the campus of the University of San Diego with an average attendance of 4,754 fans per game. The team had some of the league’s most passionate fans (we see you Chavos de Loyal!).

Neighbors in the Game

What makes the San Diego market particularly intriguing is its proximity to Mexico. Hundreds of fans frequently cross the border to support Xolos de Tijuana in Mexico’s Liga MX – something the San Diego FC ownership and staff are certainly aware of.

When San Diego FC kicks its first ball at Snapdragon Stadium in 2025, it will be the MLS club closest in proximity to Mexico. With a maturing relationship between MLS and Liga MX, we’re very excited to follow how San Diego FC begins to make an impact in the region, attract fans on both sides of the border, and carve out their niche – especially in a market void of NFL and NBA teams (like recent MLS debutant St. Louis).

There’s always been an appetite for pro soccer in the San Diego area if the merchandise sales from the launch event are any indication, the club is off to a solid start.