TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League today announced that Mark Hall, a real estate-oriented entrepreneur based in Northern California and the President and CEO of Hall Equities Group, has acquired the rights for a United Soccer League franchise in the Oakland East Bay area. Hall is an active real estate developer and operates a nationwide portfolio of varied commercial properties, apartment buildings and hotels, as well as a variety of sports-focused businesses. Hall intends to pursue the development of a 15,000+ seat soccer-specific stadium complex to house the new club. The overall project could potentially include a hotel, a conference facility, retail and other uses synergistic to the stadium complex that would enhance the fan experience.
“Located in one of the largest media markets in the country, the Oakland East Bay area fits perfectly into our mission of building passionate regional rivalries, and further strengthens the USL’s presence on the West Coast following our recent expansion in Fresno and Las Vegas,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “We have full confidence in Mark’s vision and plan to bring professional soccer to the East Bay, given his track record of success in real estate investment and development across the country.
“The USL continues to be a leader in the growth of professional soccer in North America by bringing the world’s game to new, untapped markets with proven local ownership groups and soccer-specific venues that deliver an unforgettable experience for fans. East Bay’s stadium will not only serve as a first-class venue for a professional soccer team, but also be a community asset that hosts other events.”
Having acquired the rights to a USL franchise, Hall will work directly with local officials to secure a suitable location for a major stadium project. The goal is to have the stadium and team ready for kickoff by the 2021 USL season or sooner, if possible.
“Professional soccer continues to thrive across North America, and we are thrilled to participate in its future by bringing a professional USL club to the East Bay,” said Hall. “The East Bay area is the center of gravity for soccer participation in Northern California. We have passionate fans who love the game, and I’m looking forward to building the club for this region, with a state-of-the-art venue to call their own.
“We see a unique opportunity to fill a professional sports void created from the loss of the Oakland Raiders and the Golden State Warriors to venues outside of the East Bay. We intend to fill that void with soccer, which we see as the up-and-coming sport of the future, both in our region and the nation. A well-conceived stadium complex can be a game-changing economic generator for the right area, and we hope there will be a community that will find an integrated stadium, hotel and conference facility to be an attractive anchor, which will generate jobs and economic vibrancy.
“Our new USL club will be a natural extension of our other sports-oriented activities currently underway in the East Bay,” said Hall, who is presently overseeing construction of the Shadelands SportsMall facility in Walnut Creek. This $45 million-dollar project is one of the largest privately financed indoor youth sports complexes in the United States, covering 250,000 square feet. This highly-anticipated facility, which is expected to complete construction by August 2018, will house seven long-established businesses conducting youth-oriented sports training. Tenants in the Shadelands SportsMall include the Ultimate Fieldhouse Basketball complex, which has recently been home to the Stephen Curry SC30 Select Camp, Encore Gymnastics, American Swim Academy, Vibe Volleyball, Mike Murphy Baseball, Sparta Taekwondo and the anchor tenant of the complex, Copa Reál Soccer Training Studios (www.coparealsoccer.com) – a subsidiary of Hall’s diversified sports business platform, known as COPA Innovation Laboratories.