SAN ANTONIO – Groundbreaking ceremonies today heralded the start of construction of Scorpions Community Stadium, new home of the San Antonio Scorpions FC pro soccer team.
“This is a tremendous stride forward in bringing exciting professional soccer to Greater San Antonio and South Texas,” said Gordon Hartman, founder of Soccer for a Cause, the community-wide effort to help the sport gain even greater popularity as well as to generate financial support for non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland family theme park in Northeast San Antonio. “Scorpions Community Stadium will be San Antonio’s premier outdoor sports and special-events venue when it opens for the 2013 North American Soccer League (NASL) season.”
In addition to serving as the Scorpions’ home, the multi-purpose stadium will host high school, and collegiate soccer championships, plus concerts and other special activities, Hartman added.
Joining Hartman for the festive ceremony were NASL Commissioner David E. Downs, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Scorpions coaches and players, the Scorpions Girls ambassadors, pro soccer support groups, civic leaders, soccer league leaders and members of the special-needs community.
“We thought it entirely appropriate to have our stadium groundbreaking just as Morgan’s Wonderland is beginning its third season two days from now,” Hartman said. “After all, Morgan’s Wonderland is what Soccer for a Cause is all about. Scorpions net profits will go to Morgan’s Wonderland so the park can continue admitting those with special needs free of charge as well as expand special-needs programs and services.”
The new 6,100-seat stadium, which parallels Thousand Oaks Drive across from Morgan’s Wonderland, is being constructed with private funding and is ultimately expandable in stages to 18,000 seats. Stadium features include a grass playing field built to FIFA and NCAA specifications, luxury suites, a VIP lounge, a team merchandise store, a patio/beer garden, a large video scoreboard and shaded seating on the west side of the stadium.
While the team’s new home is being built, the Scorpions will play 2012 NASL home games in North East Independent School District’s 11,000-seat Heroes Stadium at Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive within sight of Morgan’s Wonderland.
Head Coach Tim Hankinson, assistant coaches and recently signed Scorpions players – many with Major League Soccer (MLS) experience – have been working out since mid-February at the South Texas Area Regional (STAR) Soccer Complex next to Morgan’s Wonderland in preparation for NASL competition.
“We’re making excellent progress in preparation for our first game against the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday, April 7, and our home opener against the Puerto Rico Islanders on Sunday, April 15,” Hankinson said. “The science books tell us that a group of scorpions is known as a ‘cyclone.’ So we’re working hard to come together as a tough, determined team that will blow away the competition.”
Hankinson noted that he and his staff looked at more than 600 prospects from 11 countries in building the Scorpions roster.
Meanwhile, Scorpions President Michael (Hitch) Hitchcock and his front-office team have been busy signing up season-passholders and sponsors.
“The momentum has been incredible as the Scorpions get set for NASL action just five weeks from now,” Hitchcock said. “We’re truly appreciative and thrilled with the entire community’s intensifying interest. As far as we know, this marks the first time in pro sports history that a team has been organized solely for the benefit of a non-profit cause. The Scorpions not only will compete for a community that’s eager to see soccer played at a high level but also for a very worthy cause – Morgan’s Wonderland and the great things the park is doing for the special-needs community.”
Hartman led the effort to create Morgan’s Wonderland so people of all ages with and without disabilities could come together in a safe, colorful, totally-wheelchair-accessible park for fun and understanding. The unique 25-acre park, which features some 25 rides, playscapes and attractions, welcomed more than 200,000 guests from all 50 states and 34 other countries during its first two seasons in operation. More information is available at www.MorgansWonderland.com.
Morgan’s Wonderland opened in spring 2010 along with STAR Soccer, which already conveys profits from the operation of 13 first-class playing fields to the park. Soon it will be the Scorpions’ turn to help Morgan’s Wonderland keep moving forward.
Sensing an opportunity to benefit Morgan’s Wonderland for the long run, Hartman in fall 2010 secured an NASL franchise – one rung below MLS – and immediately launched Soccer for a Cause, a campaign to build community support for the new team. This included a name-the-team contest, a logo-design competition and an online vote of fans to select the Scorpions’ jersey. Meanwhile, Nike became the first to sign up as a team sponsor.
In addition to the primary goal of producing profits for Morgan’s Wonderland and heightening interest in soccer, the Scorpions will help promote physical fitness and boost the local economy through tourism, Hartman noted.
“Morgan’s Wonderland continues to exceed expectations, profoundly touching the lives of special-needs children and adults, their families and friends,” he said. “Each and every day we draw inspiration from all those with special needs who must deal with hard-to-imagine physical and cognitive challenges.”
More information about the San Antonio Scorpions FC is available at www.SanAntonioScorpions.com, http://www.Facebook.com/SanAntonioScorpions or http://www.Twitter.com/SAScorpions. Additional Morgan’s Wonderland information can be found at www.MorgansWonderland.com or by calling (210) 495-5888.
About the NASL
The North American Soccer League? is the Division 2 men’s outdoor professional soccer league in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The NASL member teams are: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, FC Tampa Bay, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, NSC Minnesota Stars, Montreal Impact (joining MLS in 2012), Puerto Rico Islanders and the San Antonio Scorpions FC (beginning play in 2012). For more information about the NASL, visit www.NASL.com or on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/NASL.fans.