San Francisco Football Club, a group owned by Zappos.com founder and Warriors minority ownership group member Nick Swinmurn, will announce they withdrew their application and bid to become a United Soccer League franchise.
In speaking exclusively to NBCSports.com/BayArea, Swinmurn revealed his group tried to secure AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, as his team’s home stadium with the 2019 season as their targeted inaugural campaign.
https://t.co/R7f2yUpjtF happy to answer any questions afterward. Have a few meetings this AM so apologize if replies not immediate.— Nick Swinmurn (@swinmurn) October 3, 2017
However, an inability to secure enough dates — with Major League Baseball and the USL running concurrent seasons and the venue’s extensive private events calendar — became an obstacle too great for the group to overcome.
Swinmurn will also announce the end of Burlingame Dragons FC, the Division IV and Premier Development League affiliate of the San Jose Earthquakes.
“It was a ‘go big or go home’ scenario’” Swinmurn said, adding that the team turned it attention from building a new stadium in Burlingame for SFFC to 24 Willie Mays Plaza when environmental and parking issues mounted with the city. According to Swinmurn, the cost for the new 6,000-seat stadium near SFO would have been $3 million.
Initial plans were to play in front of 5,000 fans at AT&T Park — a venue with an extensive history of hosting world-class teams like Chelsea, Juventus and Club America. And according to Swinmurn, had SFFC been able to secure a partnership with AT&T Park, there were several promising investors willing to pay the USL its current expansion fee of $5 million.
“It’s a tough decision because we really believe in soccer,” Swinmurn said. “We had big dreams in the beginning but ultimately we couldn’t make it happen.”
The announcement comes as the San Francisco Deltas, a member of the North American Soccer League who was recently downgraded to Division 3, finishes the Fall portion of their inaugural schedule — one that while successful on the field, has produced attendance numbers good for last in that league at just over 2,400 fans a game.
The dismantling of Burlingame Dragons FC marks the end of a three-year run as the Quakes’ PDL affiliate. In three seasons, Dragons FC made the playoffs twice and produced MLS players like Nick Lima (Earthquakes), Joshua Smith (New England Revolution) and Brian Wright (Revolution).