USL News Release
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
TAMPA, Fla. – The USL awarded its 25th franchise today to the Rio Grande Valley with the announcement that Alonzo Cantu, owner of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League, will own and operate the club which will begin play in 2016.
The Rio Grande Valley Football Club will play at a new 10,000-seat stadium in Edinburg, part of the four-county area of South Texas that makes up the Rio Grande Valley. The region boasts a population of 1.3 million, comprising one of the nation’s youngest and fastest-growing markets.
The stadium is being modeled after the Houston Dynamo’s BBVA Compass Stadium as well as the San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium.
“The USL is proud and excited to welcome RGVFC to our league,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “We have great confidence in Alonzo Cantu, who has a proven track record in business and professional sports in the Rio Grande Valley. This vibrant economic market with a population of 1.3 million enjoys a long tradition in soccer. RGVFC is a first-class sports organization that will treat the passionate south Texas soccer fans to a state-of-the-art 10,000-seat soccer-specific stadium – now under construction – which surely will become a source of pride for the region.”
Cantu is a native of the Rio Grande Valley and started his first business - Cantu Construction - in 1978. His interests have expanded to include the banking, medical and non-profit industries, and in 2007 he and a group of local business owners founded RGV Basketball LLC to bring an NBA D-League team to the region.
As owner of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Cantu has built an impressive track record. In eight seasons the Vipers have been one of the most successful NBA D-League franchises, boasting two championships (2010 and 2013), one coach of the year award winner and two MVPs. They also rank near the top of the league in average attendance, and the front office has received multiple league awards.
“Today is an exciting day for the Rio Grande Valley. Our ownership is proud to bring a United Soccer League franchise to the Valley. As the fastest growing sports league in the country, the USL is a perfect fit for our rapidly growing region,” said RGVFC’s Bert Garcia.
The USL features 24 clubs in the U.S. and Canada in 2015, including new clubs in Austin, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Louisville, Montreal, New York, Portland, Saint Louis, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Toronto, Tulsa, and Vancouver. The strategic expansion of the league has led to the development of more regional competition through the reduction of travel, and has further strengthened local and regional rivalries - the lifeblood of a strong professional league.