Six-time Major League Baseball All-Star and beloved San Diego Padres infielder Manny Machado was announced as part of the new MLS franchise’s ownership group this past week as the league formally unveiled the Southern California city as the newest expansion team.

Machado, who attended the unveiling, spoke to what has become synonymous to the future designs of the yet nameless team: community.

“It means so much to me, to my family to continue to plant roots in this community that we’ve been doing for the last couple years,” he said.

The team counts on Egyptian entrepreneur and billionaire Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation – a Native American tribe with roots dating back over 12,000 years to the San Diego area – as its majority owners.

Machado joins a growing cast of professional American athletes with stakes in MLS teams including D.C. United’s Marc Ingram of the NFL, Nashville SC’s Giannis Antetokounmpo of the NBA, Derrick Henry of the NFL, and Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes with Sporting Kansas City, among others.

It’s this tie with sporting in general, and San Diego’s commitment to youth development through the Mansour-owned firm Right to Dream, a globally recognized program that will lead San Diego’s academy projects, that attracted Machado in the first place.

“What really attracted me to this organization was the commitment and the experience of developing young athletes personally and academically, and obviously athletically through the Right to Dream foundation,” said Machado.

“It’s something that as a baseball player, it’s not only about playing the sport but academically and personally there’s a lot more to life than just a sport. But growing through the sport leads you to the right direction and can lead you to bigger things in life.”

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The ballplayer, who joined the Padres organization back in 2019 and has since ingrained himself into the community, went on to declare the Thursday unveiling as a “great moment for San Diego.”

And he has grand designs for the team, fueled in part by his fandom of La Liga and global giants FC Barcelona, and the club’s arrival ahead of the North American 2026 World Cup.

“Soccer is going to continue to grow and for the city of San Diego, this is huge, bringing an MLS team here to a city that’s been thriving over the past couple of years,” he said. “Now, to bring an MLS team here, it’s just going to grow more.”

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