The City of Tucson is benefiting from the Desert Cup, which is emerging as one the area’s signature sporting events.
The rapid growth of professional soccer in Tucson has only been fairly recent development. FC Tucson began play in 2011, occurring around the same time in which Tucson saw all of three of its MLB spring training tenants–the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, and Colorado Rockies–leave for new facilities in the Phoenix area. In a decision that helped redefine Tucson’s sports culture, Greg Foster, Jon Pearlman, and Rick Schantz formed the first Desert Cup, an MLS preseason, event in 2011.
In the years since, the event has taken off. More from Tucson.com:
A year later, 2012, the Los Angeles Galaxy, with superstar David Beckham, helped to draw 30,403 in four doubleheaders at the former Tucson Electric Park, a baseball stadium that played host to the Galaxy, Red Bulls, New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake.
The momentum was such that Pima County built a $2 million soccer stadium on what used to be Field No. 5, one of the Diamondbacks many baseball auxiliary fields. It officially seats 1,800, but at the sixth annual Desert Diamond Cup in March 2016, the championship game between the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew drew 2,250.
Foster, who played on Salpointe Catholic’s first boys soccer team in 1982-83, left his law practice to work fully on making Tucson an MLS spring training hub, and beyond that, turning FC Tucson into one of the nation’s top Premier Development League organizations.
All in all, Tucson can certainly be classified as an example of where soccer is not only filling the void left by other sports, but is quickly growing.
Image courtesy FC Tucson.