San Diego submits application for MLS expansion franchise
SAN DIEGO -- Major League Soccer officially has another city seeking an expansion franchise.
MLS commissioner Don Garber accepted a San Diego investor group's application for a team Monday on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum.
"It seems like we have something very special here in San Diego," Garber said. "This is a young city that is representing this new America that is driving the growth of our sport. That is something that is of great interest to us."
With the NFL's Chargers relocating to the Los Angeles area and leaving the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site vacant, a group called FS Investors has proposed remaking the area into a sports-entertainment district that would include a 30,000-seat stadium for an MLS team and San Diego State's football program.
If the group's proposal is approved by the city, the next step would be to win over the MLS.
"I'm very excited about all the concepts that are in here but the details will be important and that's the vetting that everyone will go through," mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "But I think the opportunity to bring Major League Soccer to San Diego and have a permanent home for the Aztecs ... I think there is a lot of excitement and this is a great opportunity for the city."
Garber anticipates that 12 cities will apply for the four new teams that will be announced at the end of the year. He expects the expansion franchises to begin play in 2020.
He said San Diego's proximity to Mexico is a plus. A large contingent of fans regularly travels south to watch Tijuana of Liga MX.
"[MLS] has always been intrigued by a closer proximity and a closer relationship with Mexico," Garber said. "One of things that is very positive here is that thousands of people are going south of the border to attend games in Tijuana.
"We think we could have an unbelievable rivalry with that team. That connection to Tijuana is something that we are excited about."