The Pima County Board of Supervisors has voted to allocate up to $280,000 from its contingency fund to attract Major League Soccer teams to a preseason training camp at Kino Sports Complex in 2014.
The estimated local economic impact of attracting eight to 10 MLS teams, including a team from Mexico, to such a training camp is $4 million for one year alone, much of it in hotel and restaurant business.
MLS preseason activity in Pima County has grown from one match in 2011 to 19 in 2013.
FC Tucson, a Premier Development League soccer club based at the Kino Sports Complex clubhouse and soccer fields north of Ajo Way, brought four MLS teams to Kino Stadium for the preseason eight-match Desert Diamond Cup in 2012 and 2013. The final match in 2013 was broadcast live on NBC Sports.
In addition, in 2013 FC Tucson brought five more MLS teams to play in nine preseason friendly matches, or “friendlies,” and three international teams – Denmark, Canada and Veracruz – to play in two friendlies.
Pima County is converting five baseball fields at Kino Sports Complex north of Ajo Way into six soccer fields and adding a 2000-seat grandstand to one of them to create the North Stadium, which will be completed in October.
“This continues our commitment to soccer spring training,” said District 5 Supervisor Richard Elías, which has brought opportunities for youth sports and “a lot of dollars to our community.”
The board agreed to allocate the funds to Visit Tucson, which will distribute the funds – with County review and approval – to assist with attracting MLS teams. The board agreed that in order to benefit from the assistance, visiting teams must stay in unincorporated Pima County so that Visit Tucson and Pima County will each receive 3 percent of the resulting bed tax.
The board’s action includes an option to extend the agreement for another two years. The County will require FC Tucson and Visit Tucson to provide detailed information about the actual economic benefit generated by the training camp.
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