The news doesn’t come as a surprise. In the past, Harden has shown interest in soccer and has posted on social media several pictures of himself wearing soccer jerseys. Harden recently was in London and helped Arsenal unveil its new away kits.
Two days later he became part owner of two soccer teams.
“Soccer in general, and especially MLS, has exploded in this country throughout my lifetime,” Harden said. “I’ve been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fan base, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose.”
Major League Soccer has grown from 10 teams in its inaugural 1996 season to 24 clubs this season. The league is expected to expand to 30 clubs in the coming years. Harden wants to be part of that growth and sees potential with the Houston clubs. He now owns a 5 percent stake in both teams.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future,” Harden said.
The shooting guard added, “Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time.”
The Dynamo’s majority owner still is Mexican businessman Gabriel Brener, who bought his share of the team in December 2015, but for many fans has not done enough to improve the club. Brener expressed his excitement about Harden joining the ownership and said he is looking forward to hearing the NBA star’s thoughts on the club going forward.
“We are thrilled to welcome James into our club,” Brener said. “He’s an icon in the Houston community, and not only is he a great basketball player, but he also has an extremely smart and savvy mind for business.”
So, how are the Houston fans reacting? When speculation of the new owner hit social media, there were many different reactions. Some think the buy was just a public relations stunt because the Dynamo are in danger of missing the playoffs again this season.
The conspiracy theorist in me thinks the Harden news came out to deflect that pathetic Dynamo game last night.
— Nobius 🍊🤠 (@nobius) July 18, 2019
Others are happy that a Houston icon wants to be involved in another local team, but think nothing will change because Harden is not a majority owner.
James Harden will reportedly hold a 5% stake with the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash. I don’t expect any flashy moves soon but overall happy that he is part of the organization https://t.co/mhaViwUjcM
— The Foxtrot (@DynamicFoxtrot) July 18, 2019
The most common wish from fans is for the Dynamo to invest a “superstar” player like Zlatan Ibrahimović, Carlos Vela or Wayne Rooney. Javier “Chicarito” Hernández’s name received mention.
In other words Harden invested $23.75m in the Dynamo/Dash.
That's a fair amount of cash. It'll be interesting to see if that goes into a Chicharito-level signing, making Houston a true development club, or into the current owners pockets. https://t.co/4h0vwShtxe
— Tutul Rahman (@tutulismyname) July 18, 2019
The Dynamo have been going through a rough patch, losing games on the road and dropping points at home. Attendance at BBVA Compass Stadium has suffered. Ownership must hope the addition of Harden will inject fans with optimism for the team’s future.