SAN ANTONIO – In a special meeting Monday, Bexar County commissioners approved the lease agreement allowing Spurs Sports and Entertainment to operate Toyota Field as it works to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to San Antonio.
The city of San Antonio and Bexar County agreed to pay $9 million each to purchase Toyota Field.
“Once that's done, that’s just the very beginning because the only reason we're doing this is to go after Major League Soccer,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said.
The San Antonio Scorpions of the the North American Soccer League that used to call Toyota Field home will do so no longer.
Spurs Sports and Entertainment now begins the process of bringing a new team to town which will likely be part of the United Soccer League.
The USL is said to have a closer working relationship with MLS.
“Our No. 1 hope right now is that we can get everything off the ground, bring out a great fan experience for the citizens of San Antonio and really enhance the soccer fan base here in the community,” said Bobby Perez, senior vice president and general counsel for Spurs Sports and Entertainment.
Bringing a second major league sports franchise to the Alamo City is a goal we’ve seen before.
But this time, county leaders say, is different because San Antonio is on the list of possible cities for MLS expansion.
“In this case, we heard directly from the commissioner of MLS who said, 'Hey, you really are on the radar screen,’” said Kevin Wolff, Precinct 3 County Commissioner.
If Spurs Sports and Entertainment can secure an MLS team, voters will have a say in the expansion of Toyota Field.
An election will be held -- likely after 2017 -- to let voters decide on whether to enhance the stadium to accommodate an MLS team and the crowds that will hopefully come with it.
“We will not be doing any expansion unless we get a Major League Soccer team,” Wolff said. “We're not going to build it and then hope they come.”
Wolff adds that preparation is key, which includes showing the MLS that San Antonio has a fan base that can support a major league team.
“We'd be competing against other cities. So its important that we be ready for it,” Wolff said. “If we're not ready for it, you're not going to see Major League Soccer here for a decade or two.”
Bexar County, the city of San Antonio and Spurs Sports and Entertainment are planning to make an announcement Tuesday about the future of soccer in San Antonio.