Mexican Federation Supports San Antonio’s MLS Push

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by JAKE NUTTING
Staff Writer

The San Antonio Scorpions have received their highest profile endorsement in their pursuit to capture one of the remaining MLS expansion slots.

Mexican Football Federation President Justino Compeán threw his support behind the 2014 NASL Soccer Bowl champions effort in a letter to MLS Commissioner Don Garber that was also circulated among San Antonio City Council members.

The letter was first reported by the San Antonio Express news, and in it, Compeán highlighted the great effort Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman and city officials have already taken to bring professional soccer to San Antonio.

“I met with Mr. Hartman who has shared with me his commitment to developing a first-class sports and entertainment facility and bring a MLS to the city of San Antonio,” Compeán wrote. “The city has the infrastructure, resources and diversity that makes San Antonio the ideal place for MLS expansion.”

The man who oversees the Mexican National Team and the Liga MX also noted the potential that expansion to San Antonio has to strengthen the existing bond between the Mexican Federation and MLS .

“As we continue to look for new, creative ways in which to partner, it is our strong belief that MLS expansion into San Antonio would be an outstanding opportunity to continue working together towards our common goal of promoting the game,” Compeán wrote. “The local Mexican roots of this community run deep and the synergies that can be created by locating a team within the city of San Antonio will have a lasting impact on the community and our cross-border partnership”

Those Mexican roots that Compeán mentioned are likely the biggest reason why the Scorpions are now the only expansion group able to count a powerful federation in their corner. The Mexican Federation only stands to benefit from San Antonio joining the top American division. Many Liga MX teams have been scouting MLS academies and neglected areas within the US. San Antonio would be the closest MLS team to the US-Mexico border and would presumably be developing a number of players with Mexican ties who could end playing in Mexico or even for the Mexican National Team.

The endorsement is undoubtedly a coup for the Scorpions who for a while seemed to be getting lost in the MLS expansion shuffle.

“…the U.S. is playing Mexico in San Antonio in April,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber told Sports Illustrated this week. “We sold that game out. Tickets went on sale three weeks ago. That game sold out already in the Alamodome. 60-plus thousand. It’s the quickest we’ve ever sold out a U.S.-Mexico match … So San Antonio is a great market.”

Much work is left to be done, however, before the Scorpions become the favorites to seal one of the final expansion spots before the league reaches its self-imposed cap of 24 teams by 2020. Expansion groups in Sacramento and Minnesota have already secured major financial investors from the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Back in November talks between Hartman and a group of Japanese investors heated up to the point where they made a presentation to the City Council of how they planned to bring MLS to the city. Those talks have cooled and now Hartman has reportedly hired a consulting firm to seek out new investors to aid in the effort.

The proactive approach to seeking out new partners is a huge step for the expansion efforts. The team still needs to fund a 10,000 seat expansion to meet the standards and Hartman would likely want help paying the hefty MLS expansion fee that could reach $100 million. If Hartman can find a suitable partnership, then the NASL could face the real possibility of losing its only foothold in Texas, a major soccer region in North America. Just look at how highly the Mexican Federation values the area.

  • Actually, Los Angeles is closer to the Mexican border than San Antonio. LA is also closer to a major Mexican population center than SA. And we saw just how well the MX/USA synergies worked with Chivas USA.

    But by all means go ahead.

  • To be clear, the Galaxy would be closer to the MExican border than a San Antonio team, so that’s just not true.

    • Sorry, honest mistake. Both cities are under 200 miles to Mexico though. So still pretty close.

      • This is just a very weird thing to me. What could possibly be in it for the MExican Federation to support such a venture that wouldn’t be bad for soccer in this country? I don’t get it at all.

  • NYsoccerfan

    With so many great potential expansion cities in the running, it’s time MLS reviewed some of the existing teams out there if they want to keep this league to 24 teams. I mean, the Crew’s home attendance in the playoffs was nothing short of embarrassing. Is a team this small really needed, when you have the likes of Minnesota, Sacramento and San Antonio lining up, not to mention St. Louis?

    It’s time for MLS to carve out Canada and let them add Ottawa, Edmonton, etc. Of course, it will never happen since they bring home the bacon for the league office (forgive the pun)…

  • El Paso tx Cosmo

    In reality my local town of El Paso tx is the closest to the Mexican border.
    El Paso, tx and Juarez, chihuahua in the country of Mexico are both soccer crazy cities. They are hidden gems and Tijuana copied Juarez with the soccer plans.
    Juarez used to have D1 but they got relegated like 5 years ago and it was the same thing like in Tijuana, mostly El Paso people would be there and the 24,000 seat stadium in Juarez was always sold out.
    More than half the stadium was season ticket holders and mostly from El Paso,tx.
    Another important thing to point out is that El Paso,tx is the number 1 soccer market in texas but since we lack big job companies and supposedly we are a small town which is not true, we get forgotten but El Paso,tx is easily the best soccer town in texas.
    Last but not least, the university system of texas which is owned by UTAustin has limited and hold back tons of times our university of Utep to host MLS friendlies, USA vs Mexico, ligaMX friendlies and even DJ raves.
    By the way I’m not over talking, El Paso tx is full of soccer fans and we have a great fan base. I’m surprised with don’t have NASL or USL when we have 4 stadium options and land to make a stadium and home to a rich oil man by the name of Paul Foster.
    We have tripleA baseball but soccer would make this city go nuts.

  • *raised eyebrows here*

    Erm. Why would we help out Mexico, our biggest rival, when we probably should put more work in developing Canada’s NT, since Canada is actually part of the MLS system anyway?