The SF Deltas were the men’s professional soccer team based in San Francisco, California. Founded in 2015, the effort to bring professional soccer to San Francisco was led by Fábio Igel and Brian Andrés Helmick. The Deltas were financially backed by a group of investors from Silicon Valley technology companies and venture capital firms as well as investors from Brazil.
In January 2016, as part of its “One Fan at a Time” approach, the team name was unveiled to 100 special fans followed by a march to a local pub to watch a soccer match together. San Francisco is known for being the city of change and innovation. As such, “delta” means “change” and was intended to capture the region’s spirit and willingness to take risks and challenge the status quo.
In March 2016, hundreds of fans appeared at City Hall and many spoke in support ensuring the approval of the application with the City of San Francisco allowing the SF Deltas to play their home games in Golden Gate Park at Kezar Stadium, the original home of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. Nearly 4,000 Candlestick Park seats from the then-demolished second home of the San Francisco 49ers were later purchased and installed by the SF Deltas at Kezar Stadium as part of a larger renovation plan, including new stadium lights and updated locker rooms.
The club was very intentional in building its foundation in order to guide its future decisions. It brought together a diverse group of soccer experts to establish the soccer philosophy for the club, for the head coach, and for the players before starting to search for candidates. The three pillars for the entire organization were Innovation, Transparency and Community.
Innovation was a driving force across all aspects of the club. It permeated health and human performance aspects for the players as exemplified by the use of wearables to track and analyze daily analytics related to training, recovery and sleep. This was crucial since, as part of the regular season, the team had to travel over 85,000 miles, which is believed to be the single most rigorous regular season travel schedule in sports history. The club was creative in finding ways for the players to jell in a short period of time including securing a residential building where half of the players all lived together. Innovation influenced the fan experience as well. The SF Deltas were the first sports team to globally broadcast all of its home games on Twitter simultaneously in three languages. It partnered up with companies like Verizon to create an augmented reality jumbotron in the stadium and Eventbrite to bring innovation and lower fees to ticketing since the club committed to keep a third of the tickets in the stadium below $20.
Transparency was a key part of the club’s goal to operate with integrity and with unprecedented access for fans. This was easier to do with good news and more challenging with difficult information, however, the club maintained its commitment to transparency and shared detailed operational information publicly. It was the only team in the league to announce attendance data that represented the actual number of people who attended games instead of the common practice of announcing attendance as the sum of tickets sold and free tickets distributed. The home jersey selection was the result of season ticket holders voting on designs, including some submitted by fans. Transparency and collaboration were part of open tryouts where 300 players arrived from all over the world. Fees were less than 50% of other pro tryouts and the club invited all professional and amateur clubs in Northern California to use the tryouts for their own scouting purposes.
Community involvement was core to the operations of the club. The three priority causes were to end homelessness, to empower women, and to employ low-income youth. Street cleaning after games was done via a partner non-profit that employed homeless youth. Food for the VIP section of the stadium was done via a partner non-profit that helped minority women become food entrepreneurs. Concession sales at games were done via a partner non-profit that helped low-income youth break the cycle of poverty. In addition to these three priority causes, the club was active in various other ways, such as regularly playing soccer with inmates at San Quentin prison and providing a free special gameday experience to a youth soccer team and all their families when one of the youth was a victim of a shooting. All of these efforts were part of a deep belief that it’s possible to simultaneously do well and do good.
On the field, the 2017 inaugural season in the NASL was full of exciting moments from incredible victories to one especially galvanizing defeat. The team was led by head coach Marc Dos Santos and had an incredible squad of players from the US, Brazil, Canada, France, the Netherlands and Spain. The club played a total of 42 games (5 preseason, 3 U.S. Open Cup, 32 regular season, 2 playoff) for a combined record of 20 wins, 15 draws, and 7 losses. The regular season record of 14 wins, 12 draws, and 6 losses landed the SF Deltas in 2nd place overall in the league and qualified them to the playoffs. The SF Deltas advanced to the final against the New York Cosmos, arguably the most famous US soccer team where some of the world’s all-time greats played, like Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer. The final pitted the first year club SF Deltas against the New York Cosmos with a storied history, a larger budget, and chasing its 3rd consecutive championship. On November 12, 2017, a total of 9,691 fans packed Kezar Stadium to witness the SF Deltas beat the New York Cosmos 2-0 to win the Championship Final. Led by the Delta Force supporters group, the fans stormed the field in an emotional celebration for a storybook ending to the season. On November 24, 2017, the SF Deltas announced that the club was closing down.
This site is for existing fans to reminisce about this incredible club and for new fans to learn about the story. The video below is a gift of appreciation to all of those who played a part in the amazing adventure called the SF Deltas. Thank you. The title of the video is “The Dream Ending” because it was simultaneously both the perfect ending to the story, but also the sad moment when the dream ended of the SF Deltas as San Francisco’s pro soccer team.