Soccer supporters want to build a facility over the Rillito Race Track. (Nicholas Smith/AZBiz.com)
It will also provide greatly needed practice space for an area of town that has almost no park space, Gary Davidson, who chairs the parks and recreation subcommittee of the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee, told AZBiz.
Putting in the facility would boost Tucsons park acreage per population figure, something it trails the national average by about 30 percent, as well as increases tourism to the area, according to AZBiz.com.
Las Vegas found a few years ago that (youth sports) was definitely a market that theyve been tapping into, Davidson said. Back when my son was involved in soccer, really Tucson teams never went to Vegas; it just wasnt a sight. And now theyre going all the time to tournaments out there because they built a facility.
Tucson already plays host to the Fort Lowell Shootout in January each year, which is second only to the gem and mineral show in terms of hotel occupancy, according to tournament scheduling coordinator Curt Cannon.
The Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the shootout brings about $4.2 million to the local economy each year. Some of that depends on the numbers of teams participating.
This years shootout attracted 290 teams, slightly fewer than previous years likely due to the economy.
The shootout and four other Tucson youth tournaments bring in about $7.5 million annually for the local economy, Pima County District 1 Parks Commissioner Stephanie Maben told the website. This figure does not include the state or national cup tournaments held here each spring.
The major money would come through hosting youth soccers western regional tournament, which is held in a different city each year.
Basically youre talking about entire amounts of this tournaments are coming from out of town, rental cars, airfare, hotels, meals for a full week if not longer, Maben said. This is something that we have been asked to host but we have not been able to because we dont have an 18-field complex.
She found that holding the June regional in Tucson would generate $20.6 million for the local economy and draw hundreds of teams, 4,500 players and 10,000 spectators from states like California, Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming.
With the youth youre getting the whole family, youre getting whatever player, both parents, siblings; everybody has to eat and drink and be entertained, Balcer said.
Even when a tournament isnt in session, the centrally-located park would be a center for practice while still generating economic dollars.
The Rillito track brings in about $3.3 million each year to the local economy, according to a University of Arizona estimate.