Credit: Amir Aziz

Update, July 28: The Oakland Roots and Soul soccer clubs are inviting the local community to invest in their teams and have partnered with the crowdfunding platform WeFunder to do so.

On July 25, the jointly owned clubs announced that the minimum investment to own a stake will be $100. Other professional soccer teams that play in the U.S. including Detroit City FC, Chattanooga Football Club FC, and Minnesota Aurora have also used WeFunder for their community investment programs.

Club officials said they would share more details, including when the Community Investment Round will begin, in the coming months. The Oaklandside will continue to follow this story.

Original story, June 29: The Oakland Roots soccer team has sought from its beginning in 2018 to integrate itself into the fabric of the city. Today, the team announced another way it hopes to give its fans a sense of ownership, literally. 

The Roots and Oakland Soul—the women’s team founded last year—plan to offer opportunities for anyone to purchase a stake in the teams through what’s called a “community round.” Community members will be able to invest through “equity crowdfunding,” a method where both accredited investors and regular people can purchase shares. 

“It was always something we were intrigued by because we just liked the idea that anyone can participate in ownership,” Mike Geddes, chief purpose officer of the organization, told The Oaklandside.

Some of the Roots’ current owners include NFL superstar, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Marshawn Lynch and rapper and singer-songwriter G-Eazy.

Geddes said that there will be a minimum and maximum stake any one person can purchase in the team. This will prevent one or a few wealthy individuals from squeezing others out of the market. In order to launch this venture, the Roots and Soul have to work with a company approved by the federal Securities Exchange Commission, which ensures that companies and investors follow the law when buying and selling shares.

Geddes said the money raised will not go towards a new potential stadium. Instead, the funds will be used toward the growth of the Oakland Roots and Oakland Soul, including Project 510, the reserve club for the Roots.

The organization is still a few months out from launching the online platform that will allow people to invest. Currently, Geddes said, the organization is gathering community feedback

Professional sports teams tend to be privately owned, often by a few wealthy individuals. But there are examples of teams in various sports and leagues around the world that are owned by members of the communities they play in, including multiple professional soccer teams that play in the U.S. Detroit City FC, Chattanooga Football Club FC, and Minessota Aurora are among those teams. 

“This is an investment, just like we seek from accredited investors who believe in what we’re trying to do, believe in purpose-driven sport, want to see men’s or women’s pro soccer in Oakland, and want to invest,” said Geddes. “We’re just excited to be able to bring that to even more people.”

Azucena Rasilla is a bilingual journalist from East Oakland reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.