by ANTHONY MERCED
U.S. Soccer’s worst kept secret is now official.
Spurs Sports & Entertainment, owners of the San Antonio Spurs and several other local teams, received approval for their USL application and are tentatively scheduled to join the league for the 2016 season. The team will play in Toyota Field, an eight-thousand seat stadium recently acquired from former San Antonio Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman.
“We are extremely honored to have an organization of the caliber of Spurs Sports & Entertainment request entry into the USL,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “They are an incredible fit to our ownership model, which is based on vibrant local ownership, great venues and a marketplace with a hunger for the game.”
The previous tenants at Toyota Field were the San Antonio Scorpions. Playing in the NASL from 2012 to 2015, the team won a regular season championship in their inaugural season and an NASL Championship in 2014. After the 2015 season, the Scorpions team was dissolved. Whether or not the brand will continue in the NASL, perhaps in a different location, remains to be seen. However, the team playing at Toyota Field will have no direct link to the Scorpions aside from playing in the stadium they once inhabited.
If the announcement of San Antonio joining the 2016 USL season seems sudden that’s because it is. Only two weeks away from 2016, it will leave the team less than ninety days to build a competitive side. There is a chance that San Antonio will not be ready by March. However, it has not been the norm for team to join the USL mid-season like the split-season format of the NASL permits.
Once approval is confirmed, Spurs Sports & Entertainment would become the second NBA ownership group in the USL. Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon is involved with the Reno club joining the league in 2017.