In past years, Tucson has played host to the annual spring training for Major League Baseball. Teams such as the Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies have constantly been coming here to Tucson for their spring training.
Last year was the first time in over 50 years that the famous spring training was not held in Tucson. Instead, it was moved to bigger cities like Phoenix, letting down Tucson fans and making businesses feel the economic impact. This was an especially hard hit to Tucson because of the lack of professional sports teams here. Although Tucsonans love watching UofA sports, it’s not the same as watching professional sports.
However, Tucson has bounced back in classic fashion with a huge addition coming in the near future.
Six Major League Soccer (MLS) teams will arrive this month for their first-ever training time right here in Tucson.
Out of the six teams that are coming, the Los Angeles Galaxy, the New England Revolution, the New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake will all be playing in the Desert Diamond Cup.
The New York Times projects that this two-week tournament could bring in up to 50,000 fans, and that is great news for Tucson hotels and restaurants.
With this new soccer phenomena comes a lot of excitement. Richard Elías, a member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, which owns the facilities where the teams will play was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “We’re excited about soccer because baseball really let us down, let down the community.”
In some ways, Tucson is the perfect destination for soccer. Although it is not the most popular sport in the U.S, soccer is wildly popular around the world, including in Mexico. Last year, thousands of Mexican soccer fans came to Tucson to see the Red Bulls and Sporting K.C. play an exhibition match. The large Latino population in Tucson and Southern Arizona is also expected to bring their enthusiasm for soccer and to attend the games.
What many people don’t know is that soccer is a booming sport, more so than baseball.
According to The Economist, soccer is by far the most popular sport worldwide. Nothing really compares to its fan base in terms of numbers and enthusiasm. With soccer on the rise around the U.S, there is every reason to believe it will be successful in Tucson.
This new excitement of six Major League Soccer teams will bring crowds in, and will also attract new fans to the game of soccer. After a few years of soccer in Tucson, Tucsonans will forget what spring training even was.
You can check out what all the hype is about on Feb. 22 at Kino Sports Complex, when the New England Revolution take on the LA Galaxy at 6 p.m. to kick-off the soccer craze.