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19 May 20233 minute read

DLA Piper advises Major League Soccer’s newest expansion franchise in San Diego

DLA Piper advised MLS’ newest expansion franchise, San Diego FC, in connection with its acquisition of expansion rights from MLS for an MLS-record-setting expansion fee and its entrance into a long-term lease with San Diego State University to play its home games at Snapdragon Stadium, a newly constructed 35,000-capacity arena. San Diego FC is expected to debut as the league’s 30th team in the 2025 MLS season.


The new ownership group includes entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Mohamed Mansour, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation (the first Native American tribe to co-own a US professional soccer team) and San Diego Padres player Manny Machado. Mansour is the founder and chairman of the London-based investment management firm Man Capital, which owns Right to Dream, the global soccer community of world-class academies and clubs, including Danish club FC Nordsjaelland.


“It was a privilege to advise San Diego FC on this historic transaction which will bring a surging soccer league to a top-tier sports town,” said Richard Rubano, a partner in DLA Piper’s Sports, Media & Entertainment practice who led the deal team. “On behalf of our deal team, we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to bring our experience advising on many of the sports sector’s most significant transactions to help complete this acquisition.”


In addition to Rubano (New York), the DLA Piper team also included lawyers from across the US. Among others, the team included partners Alexander Steinberg (New York), Jennifer Dinsmore (Baltimore) and Kurt Weaver (Boston) and of counsel Lesli Falk (Chicago).


Earlier this year, the Rubano-led team also advised the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury in connection with their sale to mortgage executive Mat Isbhia for an NBA record-setting US$4 billion. Previously, Rubano led the deal team that represented Tilman Fertitta, owner of the Landry's restaurant empire and Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels, in connection with his acquisition of the NBA’s Houston Rockets for a then record-setting US$2.2 billion.


DLA Piper's market-leading international team of sports lawyers has advised on some of the most significant transactions in the sports industry, including multi-billion dollar acquisitions and sales of sports franchises, joint ventures, stadium and arena developments, team financings, media and sponsorship arrangements, and regulatory and administrative issues.