(Reuters) - Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and U.S. soccer great Mia Hamm are among the 22-person ownership group of the new Los Angeles franchise unveiled on Thursday by Major League Soccer.
The surprisingly large group is led by Vietnamese-American venture capitalist Henry Nguyen, Peter Guber, co-owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and former NBA executive turned television analyst Tom Penn.
Malaysian Vincent Tan, owner of English league club Cardiff City, former Major League Baseball player Nomar Garciaparra, who is Hamm’s husband, and motivational speaker Tony Robbins are also among the owners.
The new team, which has a working name of Los Angeles Football Club, is scheduled to begin play in 2017 and will compete with the four-times MLS champion LA Galaxy club for support.
“We believe this team can become one of the most outstanding clubs in Major League Soccer and a globally-recognized brand,” Nguyen said in a statement. “Today is day one and time for us to focus on developing a world-class stadium for the club to play in and for fans to enjoy.”
The team’s official name, front office, coaching and administrative staff will be announced at later dates.
“Los Angeles is a diverse, vibrant market with millions of soccer fans, and we look forward to an intense rivalry between the Galaxy and Los Angeles Football Club,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber
The unveiling on the new team comes three days after MLS said struggling Chivas USA, which had ground-shared with the Galaxy at the StubHub Center in the L.A. suburb of Carson, had ceased operations.
New York City FC, owned by Manchester City of England’s Premier League and baseball’s New York Yankees, will join MLS next season along with another expansion team, Orlando City SC, as the league grows to 20 teams in its 20th year.
Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Frank Pingue