Machado adds new title to resume

May 22nd, 2023

This story was excerpted from AJ Cassavell’s Padres Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

In February, Manny Machado tied himself to San Diego through 2033, signing an 11-year contract extension with the plan to retire a Padre.

Last week, Machado further tied himself to the San Diego community -- as minority owner in the city’s expansion Major League Soccer franchise.

On Thursday, MLS formalized its expansion into San Diego with a new franchise that starts play in 2025. That announcement was largely expected. What wasn’t expected was Machado’s presence.

But the Padres’ superstar third baseman noted that he’s been interested in MLS ownership opportunities for the past five or six years. When San Diego became an option, he said it was a no-brainer.

“Couldn’t be happier than for it to land here in San Diego and to be a part of this group and continue to put those roots here in San Diego,” Machado said. “It’s going to be a fun expansion, and I’m looking forward, with this great fanbase, to add another sports team here. … It’s just exciting for San Diego for sure.”

Off the field, Machado is a soccer fan -- particularly of Lionel Messi. He played soccer growing up, mostly striker, but claims to have had “two left feet” on the soccer field. (Given the grace with which he plays third base, I’m skeptical, but I’ll take him at his word.)

Machado spoke extensively about his love of the way the game is played “like a dance,” and all the athleticism involved. But more than anything, Machado loves the global nature of the sport. And he sees plenty of parallels with the sport that qualifies as his first love.

“It’s kind of like baseball,” Machado said. “You have different people from different cultures who come together to play a game.”

With the expansion franchise in San Diego, Machado joins an ownership group headed by Egyptian businessman Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. He’s the latest in a long line of prominent athletes to invest in MLS franchises, including Ken Griffey Jr., a part owner of the Seattle Sounders, and Nomar Garciaparra, part owner of LAFC. The NFL’s Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson and the NBA’s Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo are among other prominent part-owners of MLS teams.

“It’s still a dream come true,” Machado said. “I’m still in shock about it, that it’s real. A kid from Hialeah, [Fla.,] and now being part of an ownership with Mr. Mansour and Sycuan, it’s just an unreal moment. I’m truly blessed and thankful.”