Toyota joins scorpions

There are few moments in sports when an athlete or a team embodies inspiration. Rather than players and owners debating about salaries and benefits, organizations can become symbols of hope. Jackie Robinson became an icon for equality in baseball when he became the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball. In order to raise money for cancer, Terry Fox went on his “Marathon for Hope” and nearly ran across Canada. Fox also ran the Marathon with a prosthetic leg.

Such an example of an inspirational team has started in San Antonio. The San Antonio Scorpions are currently in first place in the North American Soccer League (NASL) in their inaugural season. The Scorpions have also made professional sports history by becoming the first team to be organized for having 100 percent of their profits go towards Morgan’s Wonderland – a theme park specifically designed for those adults and children with special needs.

On Aug. 28, Toyota announced a multi-year, multi-million dollar partnering sponsorship with Morgan’s Wonderland and the San Antonio Scorpions. Morgan’s Wonderland is the unique creation of Gordan Hartman. His daughter, Morgan, has physical and cognitive special needs and was the inspiration for Morgan’s Wonderland. Founded in 2010, the 25-acre theme park, completely wheelchair accessible, also admits those children and adults with special needs for free.

According to Hartman this is, “a policy that will never change.” The park has greeted guests from all 50 states and over 30 different countries. Hartman also founded the South Texas Area Regional (STAR) Soccer Complex in 2010. STAR conveys 100 percent of its net profits from the operation of the 13 full soccer fields to Morgan’s Wonderland. Hartman wanted to explore other opportunities to generate even more net profits to Morgan’s Wonderland.

So in April 2012, Hartman brought professional soccer to San Antonio with the creation of the San Antonio Scorpions. Hartman’s fight for special needs individuals and their families gained a very substantial boost when Toyota decided to partner with him in the newly named “Morgan’s Wonderland presented by Toyota.”

“We are honored to be able to support the mission of Morgan’s Wonderland” Vice President of Toyota Motor Sales, Jack Hollis, said. “In less than three short years, the park has made a difference in the lives of thousands of people with special needs and their families. And now, the Scorpions bring both the excitement of pro soccer and a revenue stream for the park; this is a win-win situation for everybody.”

Toyota will also help to finance the building of the new home for the Scorpions to play, which will be called “Toyota Field”. The 8,000-seat stadium is currently under construction on Thousand Oaks Drive, right across from Morgan’s Wonderland. Eventually, Toyota Field will go through different constructions stages and eventually hold 18,000 seats. Toyota Field construction will be completed in time for the Scorpions to play the 2013 season. Toyota Field will also be available for concerts and other San Antonio community events.

“We are pleased to be able to support the Scorpions, their games and their mission of funding for Morgan’s Wonderland. It is a unique partnership,” J.C. Fassino, Vice President of Community Relations for the Friedkin Group (parent company of Gulf States Toyota) said. “We’re just beginning to scratch the surface in helping those with special needs, but Toyota’s involvement, commitment and generosity will definitely help accelerate our efforts,” Hartman said.

Hartman calls his financial experiment with the San Antonio Scorpions “Soccer for a Cause.” His experiment has yielded a multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership with Toyota and his Scorpions are currently in first place in the NASL.