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Volume 22 No. 27
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Citigroup brought on to sell NASL’s Scorpions, stadium

The owner of the North American Soccer League team in San Antonio has hired Citigroup to sell the team, its stadium and adjacent property.

The key in the sale is the expectation that the team, the San Antonio Scorpions, could make the jump to Major League Soccer. While there is no guarantee of moving up, buying the asset could be a cheaper way into the top American soccer league than paying the nine-figure sums now required for existing teams or expansion franchises.

The prospect of MLS expansion puts a premium on NASL and other lower-tier soccer franchises.

“We are working with a variety of different groups,” said Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman, who said Citigroup is conducting an auction and has already received first-round bids.

Hartman bought the team ahead of its NASL debut in 2012. His nonprofit also owns Toyota Field and the adjacent 75-acre soccer complex, with all profits going to a special needs park Hartman built.

The proceeds from a sale of the soccer assets would fund an endowment for that park, he said.

MLS has talked positively of San Antonio as an expansion city. The Mexican Soccer Federation posted a letter lauding the soccer prospects of the city, whose MLS team could tap Mexico as a market.

Hartman declined to say what price he is seeking but it is thought to be in the mid-to-high eight figures. Much of that value is the real estate, not the NASL team, though, as well as the premium for the MLS opportunity.