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Ex-Jays star Bautista buys USL's Las Vegas Lights FC

Jose Bautista Jose Bautista - The Canadian Press

Former Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista acquired full ownership United Soccer League's Las Vegas Lights FC on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old will assume the role of chairman and governor of the club as their primary investor.

 “As a soccer fan and former professional athlete, I am excited to be involved with the world’s game,” Bautista said in a statement. “Since my retirement from professional baseball, I have witnessed the incredible growth of soccer in the United States and particularly with the USL, which I’ve been following closely for a couple years. I look forward to sharing my love of sports with the Vegas soccer community. 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 played 15 seasons in the MLB and is best known for his time in Toronto. He was traded to the Blue Jays in 2008 and went on to play 10 seasons with the club. He hit 288 home runs with the club, second only behind Carlos Delgado, and holds the single-season franchise record for homers with 54.

The 42-year-old made six consecutive All-Star game between 2010 and 2015 and won three Silver Slugger awards. He was inducted into Blue Jays' Level of Excellence in 2023.

In 1,798 career games with the Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies, Bautista hit 344 home runs to go along with 975 RBI and 1,022 runs scored. 

“Throughout my playing career, I recognized the importance of giving back in meaningful, intentional ways,” Bautista added. “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.”