November 4, 2015
By Charles Cuttone
STEP TOWARD MLS FOR SAN ANTONIO?
City, county buy Toyota Field from Scorpions
The City of San Antonio and Bexar County have agreed to purchase Toyota Field from the owner of the San Antonio Scorpions.
|Rendering of proposed expansion of Toyota Field.
Courtesy of San Antonio Scorpions
The two government bodies will pay Gordon Hartman $18 million for the stadium, while Spurs Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the San Antonio Spurs will also kick in $3 million and lease the stadium from the city for the next 20 years. The agreement must still be approved by Bexar County Commissioners Court and the City Council. Spurs Sports and Entertainment has nine years to gain an MLS franchise or it will have to pay the city $5 million.
Spurs Sports and Entertainment will manage the stadium. Under the agreement which the company built the arena for the NBA team, the county was prohibited from owning a stake in a venue of similar size with the company's approval.
Sports Spurts and Entertainment will be seeking a Major League Soccer expansion team to go into the venue, which currently seats 8,000 but already has structural steel in place allowing for the addition of a second deck.
Hartman did not sell the Scorpions as part of the transaction, and beyond a vaguely worded statement related to the club and the stadium and STAR Complex benefiting Soccer for a Cause, the team would not comment on its future.
MLS which has already granted expansion franchise to Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Atlanta, and has an option in place for Miami, is not likely to expand again before 2019. San Antonio has been mentioned previously as a possible expansion city for MLS.
The league issued the following statement about the sale of the stadium and Spurs involvement:
"San Antonio city and Bexar County officials announced that they have reached an agreement to purchase Toyota Stadium and are interested in partnering with Spurs Sports & Entertainment to bring Major League Soccer to San Antonio in the future. We sincerely appreciate this strong demonstration of interest in MLS. As we announced in March, MLS has not yet determined the timing and process of expansion beyond 24 clubs, but look forward to learning more about this project once our future expansion plans are finalized."
Last September, Hartman announced plans to expand Toyota Field. At the time the cost was estimated at $38-45 million, but there was no announcement as to who would fund the expansion or a timetable for it.