San Diego FC give wings to ‘Dream’ Academy


San Diego FC breaks ground on new training facility Image: San Diego MLS

San Diego’s (US) new Major League Soccer team – the San Diego FC – recently broke ground on its training facility and its Right to Dream Youth Development Academy, a significant milestone toward taking the pitch in 2025.

‘TIMES of SAN DIEGO’ stated that the future facility will be built on the Sycuan Reservation in El Cajon, California, US. The groundbreaking was attended by notables from the San Diego soccer scene, including Don Garber, the Major League Soccer (MLS) Commissioner, Mohamed Mansour, Chairman of the San Diego Football Club and Manny Machado, a founding partner in the club and the Major League Baseball (MLB) team San Diego Padres’ third baseman, among others.

The San Diego Football Club is an American soccer team based in San Diego, California (US). It is scheduled to enter Major League Soccer (MLS) as an expansion team in 2025 and will play their home matches at the Snapdragon Stadium, a multiuse venue built in 2022.

The 35,000-capacity Snapdragon Stadium, known during its planning and early construction phases as the Aztec Stadium, is an outdoor stadium in San Diego, California (US). It is located on the campus of the San Diego State University at the SDSU Mission Valley, a 166-acre non-contiguous expansion parcel West of the main campus.

The Right to Dream Academy is a scholarship-based academy for residential athletes at San Diego FC. The academy offers full five-year scholarships regardless of football performance. The academy’s holistic approach to talent development focuses on character building, soccer skills and education.

New York (US)-based the Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men’s professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport’s highest level in the United States. The league comprises 29 teams – 26 in the United States and 3 in Canada – since the 2023 season.

Commented Tom Penn, head honcho of San Diego FC, “Our performance center and the Right to Dream Academy will enable us to develop future generations of world-class players across greater San Diego. This groundbreaking initiative reaffirms our commitment to create opportunities for young talent to flourish and our vision to become the epicenter of football excellence and innovation in North America.”

‘TIMES of SAN DIEGO’ further stated that the Right to Dream Academy will be “an integral part” of the club’s 125,000 square-foot campus featuring a 50,000-square-foot sports performance facility shared by the first team and the academy teams and five full-sized soccer fields, including three natural turf fields and two synthetic turf fields.

Maintained Mansour, “The groundbreaking is a historic moment for sports in the United States. The San Diego FC is the first major sports organization in America to be jointly owned by a Native American tribe, and now we are the first major club to build a training facility and the Right to Dream Academy on Native American land. The Singing Hills is a hallowed ground, and we hope that what we build here will do it justice and create a lasting legacy.”

According to the team, the residential academy will house male students between the ages of 12 and 18, spanning Grades Six through 12. The first group of residential athletes will be enrolled in Fall 2025. Additionally, the San Diego FC will create a non-residential girls pathway at the academy.

Commented Cody Martinez, Vice-Chairman of the club and the Sycuan tribal Chairman, “This is a proud moment for the Sycuan Tribe and a giant step in serving the next generation of young athletes and future leaders throughout the San Diego community. The historic groundbreaking marks not only the construction of San Diego FC’s state-of-the-art training facility but also lays the foundation to nurture the dreams of young talent, fostering a stronger community and creating a legacy of soccer excellence.”

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation is a federally recognized tribe of Mission Indians from Southern California located in an unincorporated area of San Diego County just East of El Cajon. The Sycuan band is a Kumeyaay tribe, one of the four ethnic groups indigenous to the San Diego County.

The Right to Dream Academy is a scholarship-based academy in which all enrolled, residential athletes will receive full five-year scholarships regardless of their football performance.

Put in Machado, “To see this project come to life is absolutely incredible. It’s important for me to leave a lasting legacy in San Diego, which has been so supportive. Our San Diego FC vision for the youth development academy means there will be more opportunities for the young San Diego athletes, boys and girls, who may not have otherwise had them. I’m looking forward to seeing the next generation of talented athletes and future leaders emerge from this program.”

The 28-acre project was designed by the eminent architecture firm Gensler. San Diego-based Zephyr is serving as the Development Partner on the project led by the San Diego FC Founding Partner Brad Termini. AECOM is the General Contractor.

Gensler is a global design and architecture firm headquartered in San Francisco, California. It is the largest architecture firm in the world by revenue and the number of architects. In 2022, Gensler generated $1.785 billion in revenue, the most of any architecture firm in the United States.

Zephyr is a construction company that designs and develops residential houses, communities and customized commercial buildings and is based in San Diego.

Dallas (US)-based AECOM is a multinational infrastructure consulting firm. AECOM has approximately 51,000 employees and is number 157 on the 2019 Fortune 500 list. The company’s official name from 1990 to 2015 was AECOM Technology Corporation, and is now AECOM.

Concluded Garber, “The San Diego FC training facility and Right to Dream Academy will represent one of the most innovative soccer development facilities not only in MLS but in all of global soccer. For boys and girls in the San Diego area, it will serve as an inspiration to everyone who dreams of playing for their local MLS or National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team, or even representing the United States on the world stage.”

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