Less than a week after the San Diego City Council rejected a special election for the proposed "Soccer City" redevelopment of the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, the North American Soccer League announced it has selected San Diego as its newest expansion market.
The league, which is in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, will debut a club in the spring of 2018. A name and logo are in the works.
San Diego NASL is backed by an ownership group led by professional soccer players Demba Ba, Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sow. They have partnered with local business executives to bring the club to San Diego, according to a statement from NASL.
Bob Watkins will serve as the club’s president.
"It’s an absolute honor to bring professional soccer to San Diego County," Watkins said. "The international soccer stars driving this effort give us an excellent foundation from which to build. … We intend to develop local talent, helping young children realize their dreams of playing professional soccer, and we intend to help San Diego become a soccer capital known around the world."
The club will play at the University of San Diego as it scouts locations in North County to build a privately financed soccer complex to house its home stadium, the NASL said.
Ricardo Campos, who formerly served as technical director for the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, and San Diego-based communications professional Katy Temple, are joining the club’s front office.
San Diego, which will be home to NASL’s 10th club, follows the recent addition of San Francisco and Orange County to the league’s lineup.
The San Francisco Deltas kicked off their inaugural season earlier this year, and a new club in Orange County was announced last month.
“The NASL is thrilled to add San Diego to the league, and we’re just as excited to be doing so with such an accomplished group of professional players and businessmen,” NASL interim commissioner Rishi Sehgal said. “We’re confident that the success they have had on the pitch in their careers will contribute to the club’s success – on and off the pitch – in San Diego.”