Pima County, FC Tucson gearing up for 2013 Desert Diamond Cupby Pima County News on Oct. 11, 2012, under Kino Sports Complex, Pima County, Southern Arizona, Sports, Tourism, Tucson
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías joined FC Tucson soccer club partners Thursday, Oct. 11, to announce the Major League Soccer teams participating in the 2013 Desert Diamond Cup and Pima County’s plans to further improve soccer facilities at Kino Sports Complex.
“Tucson needs to have a professional sports amenity we can all be proud of,” Elias said at a news conference in the lobby of the Pima County Administration Building. “This is about economic development and bringing new money into our community.”
Pima County will invest $2 million to build five permanent soccer venues north of Ajo Way; two of them will be arenas that will seat 1,000 and 3,000 spectators.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said that the $2 million comes out of the $5 million that the Chicago White Sox paid to terminate their contract with Pima County when they moved their spring training to Glendale.
“Taxpayers aren’t paying this,” Huckelberry said. “This is thanks to the Chicago White Sox.”
The work will mark the turning point of converting Kino Sports Complex from a baseball facility to a year-round multi-sports facility, he said.
“It will be the premier facility within the region, and it will improve from there,” Huckelberry said.
Greg Foster, one of FC Tucson’s managing partners, said the private-public partnership between FC Tucson and Pima County has been critical to the success of the club and the Desert Diamond Cup.
Major League Soccer notified FC Tucson last week that it is designating Tucson the “western hub of MLS preseason.”
This is a development and branding concept that will lead to all MLS teams traveling to Tucson and Orlando in preseason, Foster said. Six MLS teams will be participating in 2013 spring training in central Florida, it was announced last week.
FC Tucson is negotiating with four MLS teams to play at the Kino north soccer complex between Jan. 19 and Feb. 6.
“Without the County’s assistance, without their investment, this would not have been possible,” Foster said. “The Pima County Board of Supervisors and the County administration have been indispensable in this process.”
In the 2013 Desert Diamond Cup, the New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders will play the double-header, round-robin tournament at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium on Feb. 13, 17 and 20. The tournament final and the third-place game will be played on Feb. 23.
The final game will be broadcast live in prime time by NBC Sports, said Chris Keeney, another FC Tucson managing partner.
NBC Sports will put Tucson on display for up to 80 million households, he said.
Adding the Seattle Sounders to the tournament lineup is significant, Keeney said, because they have an incredible fan base. Attendance averaged more than 40,000 per game in 2012.
“You may be seeing a sea of green in February,” Keeney said, when many of those fans opt to travel from wintry Washington state to Tucson’s warmer climate.
Supervisor Elías concluded that growing soccer’s presence in Pima County is about “quality of life,” about families sharing good times that will be remembered.
“We’re building more memories,” he said. “We’re building quality of life.”
Kino Sports Complex is the largest professional sports and entertainment venue of its kind in Pima County. It includes the 11,000-seat Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, seven baseball fields (four with lights), lighted softball fields, a regulation Soccer Stadium (lighted) and four additional fields available for soccer, field hockey, rugby, and lacrosse. With its panoramic view of the Santa Catalina Mountains, it is a natural fit for youth, high school and collegiate sports. Plus, it makes a great setting for social gatherings, concerts, and community events.
Kino Sports Complex is home to the Triple-A Tucson Padres baseball team and the FC Tucson soccer club. To learn more, or to schedule an event, go to www.kinosportscomplex.com or call (520)546-KINO (5466).
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