The news we've been waiting for has finally dropped, as USL and the Orange County Blues announced on Thursday morning that the club has been purchased by local businessman James Keston. Keston takes over the club, but founding owner Ali Mansouri will remain a minority owner "as part of the ownership transition," according to the release on the news.
Keston is based in Los Angeles and is identified as the Chief Investment Officer of LARO Properties, an investment company.
"We are thrilled to welcome James Keston to the USL and reaffirm one of our key tenets of finding local and committed ownership," said Alec Papadakis, the Chief Executive Officer of the USL in a statement. "James is part of an established Los Angeles family who has passion for soccer and has some very exciting initiatives planned for the team."
Added Papadakis, "Ali Mansouri gave us a presence in Southern California and served as an anchor franchise for us on the west coast as we built the USL into what it is today. I want to thank Ali for his continued efforts to promote professional soccer in the Orange County market."
Some more details from the release, on Keston's blueprint moving forward:
Keston's plans for the Blues include a complete rebranding of the Orange County team with significant fan input, a dramatically improved game day experience in a new stadium with up to 10,000 seats, a first-class soccer academy for nurturing Orange County's most talented youth players near their own communities, partnerships with a variety of clubs both domestic and international, and close links between the professional club and the community of Orange County, including fan interaction and charitable activities.
"I'm incredibly excited about the opportunity to take control of the OC Blues and transform the club into a world-class professional soccer organization," said Keston in the statement. "This is truly the realization of a lifelong dream. It's a chance to make the only professional soccer team in Orange County a truly local team focused on the fans, players and youth clubs of Orange County. We will put a winning team on the field full of exciting young talent, initiate a cutting-edge youth development academy and create a fan experience worthy of one of the largest and most dedicated soccer markets in the United States."
So this is pretty exciting, provided all that comes to pass. It remains to be seen what changes will be taking place in the short- and medium-term for the club, and they've still got the rest of the current season to finish.
We'll have more details on this huge announcement shortly. In the meantime, what do you think about the news?