MLS awards Los Angeles expansion team for 2005
Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and Jorge Vergara, owner of legendary Mexican Club Chivas, announced Monday that Vergara's expansion team will be located in Los Angeles and play in The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Grupo Omnilife Founder and CEO Jorge Vergara purchased the rights to Major League's Soccer's 11th team for 2005 one year ago for $10 million, exploring stadium and location options in several American cities before deciding on Los Angeles. Vergara, the owner of Mexican powerhouse Club Deportivo Guadalajara (a team commonly known as Chivas) as well as Costa Rican giant Saprissa, introduced Mexican real estate entrepreneur Antonio Cue as a partner in the ownership of the newest Los Angeles-based Major League Soccer team.
Los Angeles' second MLS team will begin play in 2005, along with the previously announced Salt Lake City organization owned and operated by Sports Capital Partners, LLC and longtime sports executive David W. Checketts. The 2005 MLS regular season, the League's tenth campaign, kicks off with 12 teams next Spring. Fans can sign up for season tickets and explore employment opportunities for both new teams by logging on to www.MLSnet.com.
"Today we welcome Mr. Vergara and Mr. Cue to their new home, the cathedral of American soccer," said Commissioner Garber today at The Home Depot Center. "Los Angeles, long known as one of American soccer's most vibrant, passionate, knowledgeable and enormous hotbeds, now has two Major League Soccer teams to call its own, giving our fans the first true "derby" in the sport's modern era."
MLS continues to forge ahead on the League's plan to add two additional cities in the near future, bringing the League's size to 14 teams in the near future. Conversations continue with several communities, including but not limited to Seattle, Cleveland, San Antonio, Houston, Rochester and Philadelphia, among others.
"In nine short years, Major League Soccer has become one of the top leagues in the Western Hemisphere," said Vergara at today's event, attended by more than 1,000 Chivas supporters, business and community leaders as well as the Mayor of Los Angeles, Jim Hahn, and the Mayor of Carson, Jim Dear. "Our new team will excite and entertain soccer fans across this country, and we thank AEG for opening their home as we amplify the rivalry and passion in MLS."
AEG, owners of the Los Angeles Galaxy and four other MLS teams, opened the state of the art, $150 million Home Depot Center on June 7, 2003, The Galaxy defeated the Colorado Rapids, 2-0, before a capacity crowd of 27,000 fans, the first of three regular-season sellouts for the MLS Cup 2002 champions in their new home. Los Angeles led MLS in average attendance in 2003, with The HDC seating 20,000+ for 11 of 15 home games. The revered facility has already made its mark on the sport, selling out marquee MLS events such as the 2003 Pepsi MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup 2003 as well as hosting numerous matches during the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup before serving as the cornerstone venue of Soccer United Marketing's eight-team, five-city Mexican club tournament, InterLiga, in January 2004.
AEG receives an undisclosed fee from the Vergara/Cue ownership group for allowing a second team to operate in its current MLS territory, and the sports and entertainment conglomerate announced today that it will serve as the agents concerning the new MLS team's local marketing and broadcast rights.
"As CD Guadalajara is Mexico's premier soccer brand and premier soccer club, we at AEG and MLS are honored to be a part of their vision towards the U.S. marketplace," said AEG President Tim Leiweke, also the Chairman of the MLS Board of Governors. "Based on the emergence of not just soccer in this country, but soccer in the Hispanic market, there is no question that this is one of the biggest announcements yet in the young history of MLS, and we expect great things from this addition to our League and our investor group."
A charter member of Major League Soccer, the Los Angeles Galaxy boast the highest winning percentage in the League's nine-year history, have captured one League title (2002), one U.S. Open Cup title (2001), one CONCACAF Champions Cup title (2000) and two MLS Supporters Shields (1998, 2002), awarded to the team with the best regular-season record. Former Galaxy Vice President of Marketing and Communications Whit Haskel, an experienced Hispanic Marketing executive, was named General Manager of the second Los Angeles-based MLS team.
"We are extremely pleased to welcome the Los Angeles expansion team and look forward to beginning MLS' first real 'derby'," said L.A. Galaxy President and General Manager Doug Hamilton. "In Southern California, we are uniquely positioned to support a second team in this country's premier soccer market and the home of the cathedral of soccer, The Home Depot Center. We look forward to competing with such a visionary ownership group. Let the fun begin."
Antonio Cue joins Jorge Vergara as the investor-operator of the new MLS expansion team to begin play in Los Angeles in 2005. With a background in real estate development and investment banking, the Los Angeles resident is a co-CEO of the leading real estate development company in Mexico, BCBA Impulse.
BCBA Impulse (Barrios, Cue, Belaustiligoitia, Aramburo) specializes in residential and commercial projects in Mexico and today employs over 100 people with over $100 million in revenues. Cue guided the company through its start-up phase in 1994 and today it claims the tallest residential tower in the country (Torre Altus) along with the management of a 20-year development project called "Izar" just outside of Mexico City.
"This team's goal is to be an entertaining, primarily Spanish-speaking squad which will attract soccer fans from all backgrounds," Cue said. "Our team will become a rallying point for Chivas fans all over the United States, and we promise we will deliver our brand of soccer to every MLS market."
The team name, logo and colors will be unveiled in August. A head coach as well as front-office and coaching staffs will be added in an ongoing manner, selling tickets, sponsorship opportunities and identifying players in preparation for the MLS Expansion Draft in November and MLS SuperDraft in January.