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Las Vegas Lights acquired by former MLB All-Star

Updated January 16, 2024 - 5:02 am

Former MLB All-Star José Bautista has acquired the Las Vegas Lights minor league soccer team from owner Brett Lashbrook.

As the primary investor, Bautista will serve as chairman and governor of the Lights, who will kick off their United Soccer League season in March. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed.

“Las Vegas is the place to be and has emerged as a big professional sports town, and I will do everything I can to push this club forward,” Bautista said in a statement. “As a soccer fan and former professional athlete, I am excited to be involved with the world’s game. Since my retirement from professional baseball, I have witnessed the incredible growth of soccer in the United States, and I look forward to sharing my love of sports with the Las Vegas soccer community.”

Bautista played 15 years in the MLB, most notably for the Toronto Blue Jays, and had 344 home runs. He made the All-Star Game six straight times from 2010 to 2015.

The Lights debuted in the USL in 2018, playing their home games at Cashman Field. Under Lashbrook, they became known for unconventional game promotions, splashy coaching hires and player signings, and unique uniform designs.

USL president Paul McDonough said Bautista has ambitious plans that include acquiring international players and forming a soccer academy.

“José brings a competitive athlete’s mindset to everything he does, and he will certainly bring new expectations for the club’s performance, on and off the field,” McDonough said.

Bautista founded the Family Education Fund in 2011, which guides and supports student-athletes looking to attend university programs in the U.S. and Canada. He also wants to make his presence felt in the Las Vegas community.

“Throughout my playing career, I recognized the importance of giving back in meaningful, intentional ways,” Bautista said. “Likewise, as an owner, I am committed to having a real impact on the local community and fostering a deep connection with the people of Las Vegas.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X.

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