Japanese investors are hitting San Antonio this week to talk with city officials about expanding Toyota Field to MLS specs, as the city’s bid for a Major League Soccer team moves forward.
There are two issues with MLS in San Antonio: the status of Toyota Field and the financials of the San Antonio Scorpions (NASL), the team presumably moving up to MLS. And money is key to the San Antonio MLS bid: the Scorpions don’t have the $200 million to so to move up to MLS (indeed, the team and the stadium are owned by a much more modest nonprofit), and city officials have made clear they can’t totally back a San Antonio MLS bid. Right now Toyota Field seats about 8,000, and it would need to be expanded to 18,500 or so to fit MLS specs — but the stadium, smartly, was designed to be expandable in such a situation. So investors are heading into town:
The investors will discuss the possibility of purchasing or paying for a proposed expansion of Toyota Field, which is located on the city’s far north side and is not home to the San Antonio Scorpions, a minor league franchise which helps provide a revenue stream to the Morgan’s Wonderland theme park for the disabled, which is located next door. The Scorpions, the stadium, and the theme park are owned by Gordon Hartman.
“To do this, they would be investing over $100 million,” Hartman told Newsradio 1200 WOAI’s Michael Board. “They are looking for the city to help in some fashion, maybe on the stadium purchase.”
San Antonio is one of several cities seeking an MLS expansion team. Atlanta and New York FC are entering the league in 2015, and with the Miami bid from the David Beckham crew in serious doubt, it looks like two slots could be open. Potential team owners in San Antonio, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and El Paso have all laid the groundwork for an expansion team.