San Antonio, with its strong, Spurs backed ownership-group, was widely viewed as a darkhorse candidate for one of this year’s two MLS expansion slots. Those hopes took a major hit on Wednesday.
While local officials explicitly stated that the city remained in pursuit of an MLS team as a matter of priority, they also provided a healthy dose of realism with respect to the current standing of the bid, reports KSAT. With a solid ownership group and a USL presence in San Antonio FC performing well, it was always going to come down to a stadium plan, and that’s exactly where the bid currently lacks.
“We kind of think we have a better shot at the third and fourth pick, and when we don’t know when that would be — possibly sometime next year.” Bexar County judge Nelson Wolff said. “We just don’t know for sure.”
The stadium plan known so far is largely contingent on the expansion of Toyota Field, the current home of San Antonio FC. The plan would need to add roughly 10,000 seats to meet MLS standards, which would almost certainly require some public funding.
“As owners of the stadium, we would work out some arrangement with the Spurs to expand that, where we would share that between the city, the county and the Spurs at some ratio.” said Wolff. “I’m not sure what yet.”
On the whole, the lack of a definitive plan to expand Toyota Field as we approach the latter stages of the league’s process for slots 25 and 26, combined with those comments from the city and county, paint a poor picture of San Antonio’s chances this year. But slots 27 and 28 remain in focus once MLS unveils their process for those spots.