The United Soccer League (USL) today awarded its 25th franchise to Alonzo Cantu, owner of the NBA Development League Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The club, known as RGVFC, will serve as the hybrid affiliate of the Houston Dynamo. RGVFC is slated to kick off in 2016.
Additionally, the team plans to build a 9,400-seat stadium in the heart of Edinburg, Texas. The stadium, which is modeled after the Houston Dynamo’s BBVA Compass Stadium, will be located at the intersection of East Freddy Gonzalez Drive and South Raul Longoria Road.
“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 9,400-seat soccer-specific stadium – now under construction – which surely will become a source of pride for the region.”
RGVFC’s majority owner is no stranger to the hybrid affiliation model. Over eight seasons, he has overseen one of the NBA D-League’s most successful franchises. In 2009, Cantu and the Houston Rockets pioneered the concept of hybrid affiliation in the NBA. The Rio Grande Valley Vipers boast 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,” RGVFC’s Bert Garcia said. “We are also excited about our partnership with the Houston Dynamo. RGVFC and the Dynamo are the first professional soccer franchises to operate under hybrid affiliation. The model has proven successful in this region and we look forward to kick off next spring.”
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.
Season tickets for RGVFC’s inaugural season are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling the team at 956-972-1144. For more information about RGVFC, visit www.rgvfc.com.