Ahead of its Major League Soccer debut in 2025, San Diego FC is making moves toward building its future.
This week, the 30th MLS club broke ground on a new training facility and youth academy on the Sycuan Reservation in El Cajon, California. The project is expected to cost $150 million and be ready in time for the club’s inaugural season.
Mohamed Mansour and members of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation were on hand for the ceremony; the majority co-owners paid a record $500 million expansion fee for the right to found the team, becoming the first major American sports team to be owned by a Native American tribe.
Also on hand were MLS commissioner Don Garber, San Diego FC founder and CEO Tom Vernon, and San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado, who is a minority owner of the team.
The campus will cover 125,000 square feet, with a 50,000-square-foot performance facility to be shared by the first team and the academy teams. There will be five full-sized soccer fields: three natural grass and two synthetic turf.
The club is investing much of the time, money, and space into its Right to Dream Youth Development Academy.
A concept not uncommon in European soccer, San Diego is looking to create a holistic approach to developing its academy players. All enrolled players will receive full five-year scholarships regardless of their play on the field, and will attend a privately operated school at the residential academy spanning grades six through 12 — a first in MLS.
The academy will of course feature many boarding school staples such as a dining hall, dormitories, and a communal hub. The club also plans to have a non-residential academy program for girls.