NEW YORK – The San Francisco Deltas will have some company out west come 2018.
The North American Soccer League announced Wednesday that it will operate an expansion team in Orange County, Calif. next year.
Pete Capriotti, an Orange County-based entrepreneur who has been a big proponent and fan of local soccer, will be the club’s majority owner and league board representative. Capriotti is the owner of Cotti Foods, which operates 177 Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Pieology restaurants nationwide.
“On behalf of our board of governors, it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Pete Capriotti and soccer fans in Orange County to the NASL,” NASL interim commissioner Rishi Sehgal said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that such a fantastic market will join the league and we have been impressed with Pete’s vision, passion for soccer, and overall business leadership. The club will be an exciting addition to the league.”
The club has signed a letter of intent to play its games at Titan Stadium, a 10,000-seat, natural-grass facility located on the campus of California State University, Fullerton. The soccer-specific stadium, which has a history of hosting professional clubs and top international friendlies, features seating that is close to the field. Brazil used the stadium as a training site prior to the 1994 World Cup final.
“Soccer has always been a family affair in our house – we all love it,” Capriotti said. “I’m a big fan and supporter of local, grassroots soccer and that’s what this club will represent. It will unite a base of soccer fans who are passionate about the quality of play and experiencing something fun and entertaining. We’re going to find talented players and help develop their careers, while building a championship team that the fans can be proud of.”
The club is currently considering several names in advance of its public launch in June 2017.
“It’s important for us to have a significant presence on the west coast, and we’re fortunate to have the right owner bringing NASL energy and excitement to an area that is, without question, a hotbed for soccer,” Sehgal said. “Pete is an extremely successful entrepreneur and we certainly look forward to having his knowledge and expertise in the board room as we continue to expand and evolve as a league.”
Earlier this year, the NASL formed an expansion committee, which focuses on identifying market opportunities, vetting potential investors, and onboarding new clubs. Capriotti is the first new owner to conclude the league’s new expansion process.