SA Scorpions begin stadium construction

With the presence of City and team officials, including Mayor Julián Castro and team founder Gordon Hartman, the SA Scorpions held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Community Stadium to be inaugurated in 2013. The Scorpions are the latest expansion team of the North American Soccer League, the second-division professional league in the USA. The ceremony took place at the site of the new stadium, which is located between Morgan's Wonderland (founded by Hartman, it is a family-themed park specifically designed for children with disabilities) and the North East Independent School District’s 11,000-seat Heroes Stadium at Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive within sight of Morgan’s Wonderland, and where the Scorpions will play until the new stadium is officially opened. The Scorpions Community Stadium will initially seat 6,100 fans, but it will ultimately be expanded in stages to 18,000 seats. The team's first home game will be April 15 against the Puerto Rico Islanders.

"This is fantastic for our city, because San Antonio is a soccer city," Mayor Castro told the Current. "We have tons of families with children who play soccer and who appreciate the sport. We think this will be a great success, not only for the Scorpions but for the community as well."

During his first unsuccessful campaign for Mayor, Castro was vocal in his support for a professional soccer franchise in San Antonio, something eventual Mayor Phil Hardberger opposed. "We turned the page in terms of San Antonio's pursuit of soccer," Mayor Castro said, hinting as to what the Scorpions future plans are. "To the extent that the Scorpions are successful, that will speak very well as to San Antonio's ability to get a Major League Soccer team." What's behind the mayor's words is significant: whether the Scorpions remain as a second-division team and a new Major League Soccer team is added in San Antonio (the MLS being the first-division league), or the Scorpions themselves make the jump and become the latest addition to the MLS roster, the plans are to continue promoting professional soccer in San Antonio and, eventually, join the big league.

Amongst those present was former Mayor Ed Garza (seen in the groundbreaking video wearing a Scorpions jersey), who for many years fought to bring a professional soccer team to San Antonio.

"It's a wonderful celebration," Garza told the Current. "The city was awarded an MLS franchise in 2006, but when I left office the new mayor [Hardberger] wasn't as interested, and we've come a long way. The political support has aligned itself for this team and a lot of people are finally seeing what soccer means for San Antonio at all levels, not just professional."

The franchise Hardberger wasn't interested in eventually became the Houston Dynamo, which won the MLS Cup in 2006 and 2007.

Both Garza, a soccer fan and practitioner himself, and Castro don't see the advent of the Scorpions as any sort of vindication, and prefer to celebrate without throwing darts to past administrations.

"Those days are over, this is a new time," Garza said. "The city has matured a lot and it's tough to look back. But I would love to invite [Hardberger] to come and enjoy a soccer game with us."

"I just want to look forward," Mayor Castro said. "Whatever decision [Hardberger] took was taken at a different time, and what matters now is that the Scorpions' success will help San Antonio get an MLS team. The proof will be in the pudding." — Enrique Lopetegui

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