Pima County votes to try to attract soccer teams

The Pima County Board of Supervisors has agreed to spend over a quarter-of-a-million dollars to attract Major League Soccer teams to Tucson. If some of the 10 MLS teams and a team from Mexico are interested they begin their annual preseason training camps at the Kino Sports Complex next January.

The County wants to retool the failed 2,200 seat baseball stadium at the Kino Sports Complex on the northwest corner of Ajo Way and Country Club Road to accommodate soccer. The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to build the stadium in 1996, after Supervisor Dan Eckstrom fought for the spot. The baseball teams that had been training in Tucson for years fled to more desirable locations in the Phoenix area.

In a true public private partnership, on Thursday, August 8, the Tucson Soccer Academy will break ground for a clubhouse for young soccer players at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park, 3482 E. River Road. Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller, whose District 1 is home to the park, will speak at the groundbreaking, which is at 6 p.m. and can be accessed by the east entrance to the park on North Dodge Boulevard.

“Soccer is a great way to get fit and have fun and is growing in popularity among children and adults,” Miller said. “I support Pima County’s partnership with local soccer groups to make good use of existing facilities and fields without increasing the costs for Pima County taxpayers.”

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted last year to lease an old building at Brandi Fenton Park to the Tucson Soccer Academy (TSA) at no charge for 20 years in exchange for TSA’s improvements.

TSA has raised about $150,000 to renovate the building and furnish it for use by young people who play and practice soccer at the park, said Ted Schmidt, TSA president. It will also include a meeting room available to the public.

The clubhouse will be named the Ann Kathryn Schmidt Kickin’ It Clubhouse for Ted Schmidt’s wife, who was a TSA team manager for eight years until she died in 2011.

“For nine years, the last six enduring breast cancer and its treatment, Ann was a friend, leader and role model to many TSA girl soccer players. The club house is the perfect memorial to this strong, loving, inspirational woman.”

Last month, it was announced that the Southern Arizona Soccer Association had partnered with Pima County and paid for the conversion of a baseball field into two year-round soccer fields at the County’s Arthur Pack Regional Park, 9101 N. Thornydale Road. The fields will be used by Mountain View High School, the Tucson Adult Soccer League and Region 206 of the American Youth Soccer Organization, and will also be available for public use. The fields open today.

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