New San Diego MLS franchises unveils plan for training complex and residential youth academy

October 2 – Newly awarded San Diego MLS franchise has announced plans to build a training ground and residential youth academy in El Cajon, California, on Sycuan tribal land.

The facility will cover a 28-acre site that currently includes a portion of the Pine Glen Golf Course and the Singing Hills Hotel, which will be repurposed under the current plan.

In May the MLS has awarded it 30th franchise to San Diego, and an investment group led by Egyptian Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.

The franchise has been bought for $500 million. The last record for franchise sale was the $325 million paid by Charlotte in 2019. The team will play at the 35,000-capacity Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, starting with the 2025 season.

While it is another season and half before the MLS team is scheduled to start play, the investment group will likely have its ‘Right to Dream Academy’ up and running before then.

Mansour is the founder and chairman of the London-based investment management firm Man Capital, which owns Right to Dream (RTD), a group of youth academies, clubs and partners. The RTD development model will be at the centre of the San Diego club philosophy and business rationale, providing a platform for elite player development and ultimately player sales.

The El Cajon site will include a residential youth academy facility that will accommodate students between the ages of 11- 18 – ten existing hotel buildings will be renovated. As well as youth academy dormitories and classroom facilities for students living on campus, facilities will be made available to students, professional players, and staff working on campus.

“We couldn’t ask for a more perfect location for our training facility and Right to Dream Academy,” said Tom Penn, CEO, San Diego MLS. “This land is absolutely beautiful – rich with tradition and heritage – which will give us the foundation to achieve our vision to become the epicenter of football excellence and innovation in North America. We are grateful for the unwavering support of our Club ownership Mr. Mohamed Mansour and Sycuan.”

The 125,000 sq ft campus includes a new 50,000-square-foot state-of-the-art sports performance facility for the first team and academy teams. The facility will have five full-sized soccer fields, including three natural turf fields and two synthetic turf fields.

Cody Martinez, Sycuan Tribal chairman, said: “The establishment of the San Diego MLS training facility and youth academy right here on our reservation represents a powerful convergence of our shared passions and our commitment to the San Diego region. We are immensely proud of what this moment represents. It signifies a new chapter in the story of the Sycuan Tribe and San Diego – a chapter where we come together through our shared love for soccer to build a brighter future for our youth, our city, and our tribe. For the Sycuan Tribe, this venture underscores our deep roots in the San Diego community.”

Groundbreaking on the construction is expected to begin in November.

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