Black banner with white letters that spell out Oakland First Always next to the Oakland Roots logo.
Details inside of the training facility where the team exercise, plays scrimmage games, health check-ins and offices. The grounds were previously owned by the Oakland Raiders. Credit: Amir Aziz

Starting Sept. 13 at 9 a.m., fans of the Oakland Roots and Soul Sports Club will have an opportunity to become investors in their team. The community investment campaign, which the club is facilitating through the online platform WeFunder, is expected to be ongoing for about a month.

“When we first started the club, it was always the intent to engage with our fanbase in a more authentic way,” Oakland Roots co-founder and chief marketing officer Edreece Arghandiwal told The Oaklandside. “As we look at European models, clubs are born from the pubs and from the community. We knew that this was a way in which we could do that in a more intentional way and bring people in.”

Invest in the Oakland Roots and Soul SC

The community investment round opened on Sept. 13, 2023. Find more information and invest here.

The club announced the program in July but hadn’t gone public with the dates of the campaign or details on how to participate until Thursday. The minimum investment is $100, with levels going up to $25,000 and more. Each level comes with a different set of perks, but every community investor will receive a certificate of ownership. Community members who invest more than $1,000 will have their names included in an art installation at the club’s future home stadium.

The club hopes to raise $2 million from the community investment program to support the teams’ growth and initiatives like Project 510, a soccer academy for local up-and-coming players. In 2021, the Detroit City National Club raised close to $1.5 million through its community investment program. The cap for the Roots’ investment round is $5 million. 

“It is not just about raising money. It’s also been proven that the investment rounds are an amazing way to grow the reach of the club and the brand and expand this beyond Oakland… to everyone who is motivated and inspired by our mission and our purpose,” Mike Geddes, the club’s co-founder and chief purpose officer, told The Oaklandside.

Anyone who invests in the community round will receive a number of the club’s Class C ownership shares based on the amount they invest. All community investors will be entitled to an annual report that includes detailed financial statements.

“The exciting thing about doing a community round of investment like this is that there’s going to be a level of transparency between us and members of our community that’s really unprecedented in professional sports,” said Lindsay Barenz, president of Oakland Roots and Soul Sports Club. “Our credited investors get reports from us. And soon, folks in our community will get those same reports.”

Grand Nationxl - Oakland Roots Soccer Game
Rapper Passwurdz (of Grand Nationxl) performing at a Roots home game. Credit: Amir Aziz

Geddes said that paying dividends—a distribution of a company’s earnings to its shareholders— is a possibility in the future. However, he said, doing so is rare in professional sports since money tends to be reinvested into clubs to help their growth. Returns for investors, rather, would come by way of an acquisition of the club or by selling shares to other investors, neither of which is guaranteed. The club has promised to share further details in the documentation for investors during the community round. 

Regarding a new stadium, the club has been working with the city of Oakland and Alameda County to create a temporary 10,000-seat modular stadium that would be in place for 10 years at 8000 South Coliseum Way, known as the “Malibu lot.”

“Our goal is to be playing games at that venue in March of 2025,” Barenz said. The club’s investors are currently discussing funding for the planned stadium.

The Roots will play the 2024 season at Cal State East Bay for a second straight year after having played home games at Laney College Stadium for the team’s first three years. The club plans to announce where the Oakland Soul will play next season in the coming weeks. The women’s team played its inaugural season at Merritt College. 

“We’re at this point where the city needs vitality, it needs help, it needs inspiration, and the community investment round allows people to feel ownership in the things that they support,” Arghandiwal said. “It is not just about buying a game ticket or a t-shirt. We have some of the most passionate fans in the world. And now, these fans can show that passion and be owners of that same game.”

The WeFunder campaign will launch on Wednesday, Sept. 13. We will update the story once the link is live. 

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.