The future facility will be built on the Sycuan Reservation in El Cajon. The groundbreaking was attended by notables from the San Diego soccer scene, including Don Garber, the MLS commissioner, Mohamed Mansour, chairman of San Diego Football Club, and Manny Machado, a founding partner in the club and the San Diego Padres’ third baseman, among others.
”Our performance center and Right to Dream Academy will enable us to develop future generations of world-class players across greater San Diego,” said Tom Penn, CEO of San Diego FC. ”This groundbreaking initiative reaffirms our commitment to create opportunities for young talent to flourish and our vision to become the epicenter of football excellence and innovation in North America.”
The Right to Dream Academy will be ”an integral part” of the club’s 125,000 square-foot campus, featuring a 50,000-square-foot sports performance facility shared by the first team and academy teams, and five full-sized soccer fields, including three natural turf fields and two synthetic turf fields.
”The groundbreaking is a historic moment for sports in the U.S.,”
Mansour said. ”San Diego FC is the first major sports organization in America
to be jointly owned by a Native American tribe, and now we are the first major
club to build a training facility and Right to Dream academy on Native American
”Singing Hills is hallowed ground, and we hope that what we build here will do it justice and create a lasting legacy,” he said.
According to the team, the residential academy will house male students between the ages of 12 and 18, spanning grades six through 12. The first group of residential athletes will be enrolled in fall 2025. Additionally, SDFC will create a non-residential girls pathway at the academy.
”This is a proud moment for the Sycuan Tribe and a giant step in serving the next generation of young athletes and future leaders throughout the San Diego community,” said Cody Martinez, vice-chairman of the club and Sycuan tribal chairman. ”Today’s historic groundbreaking marks not only the construction of San Diego FC’s state-of-the-art training facility but also lays the foundation to nurture the dreams of young talent, fostering a stronger community and creating a legacy of soccer excellence.”
The Right to Dream Academy is a scholarship-based academy in which all enrolled, residential athletes will receive full five-year scholarships regardless of football performance.
”To see this project come to life is absolutely incredible,” Machado said. ”It’s important for me to leave a lasting legacy in San Diego, which has been so supportive.
”Our San Diego FC vision for the youth development academy means there will be more opportunities for young San Diego athletes, boys and girls, who may not have otherwise had them,” he said. I’m looking forward to seeing the next generation of talented athletes and future leaders emerge from this program.”
The 28-acre project was designed by Gensler. San Diego based Zephyr is serving as the development partner on the project, led by SDFC founding partner Brad Termini. AECOM is the general contractor.
”The San Diego FC training facility and Right to Dream Academy will represent one of the most innovative soccer development facilities not only in MLS but in all of global soccer,” Garber said. ”For boys and girls in the San Diego area, it will serve as an inspiration to everyone who dreams of playing for their local MLS or NWSL team, or even representing the U.S. on the world stage.”