San Diego USL Club Unveiled, But Work Remains

Warren Smith and Landon Donovan, San Diego

A San Diego USL Championship club backed by Warren Smith and Landon Donovan (shown above) is taking shape, but the pair is still looking to land a lead investor.

On Wednesday, Division II USL Championship announced plans for an upcoming San Diego squad that will be backed an investor group that includes Smith–founder of USL’s successful Sacramento Republic FC–and Donovan. The club has secured use of the University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium for home matches, part of a three-year lease that can be extended through four one-year options.

However, there are still some key details that need to be pinned down. For the time being, Smith is serving as majority owner, but that is only expected to last until he and Donovan can secure a lead investor. The search for a permanent majority owner is among the issues that has to be addressed, along with an exact launch date for the club. The 2020 season is being floated as a possibility, though San Diego USL could ultimately begin play in 2021. More from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

There are still some details to sort out — a majority owner, for one. Smith said he’ll be it for now while pursuing local investors.

Another: Whether the team will start in March 2020 or 2021.

“There’s a lot of work we need to do to be prepared, a lot of boxes to check,” Smith said. “Of course I’d like to play in the 2020 season. Having said that, where we stand today I can’t guarantee that but I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen.”

This week’s announcement of a San Diego USL Championship club comes after previous plans for the league to field a team in the market came up short. 1904 FC, initially planned as an NASL expansion team before investors shifted their efforts to USL, had sought to begin play in 2019. However, the USL rejected the group’s expansion bid last year.

Donovan was previously part of a separate San Diego MLS expansion effort that was led by FS Investors. That proposal called for a new stadium as part of a larger redevelopment of the SDCCU Stadium site, but it fizzled out after San Diego voters in November chose a competing plan for the property that included a new SDSU stadium and surrounding development

Photo courtesy Praise Media / USL San Diego.

RELATED STORIES: Landon Donovan, Warren Smith to Back San Diego USL Club

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