Major League Soccer preseason is back in Tucson, for a sixth year in a row, bringing a huge economic kick to the Old Pueblo's economy.
The city has become the home of preseason training, yet again, but this time for half of the MLS teams. With having world-class athletes in town for almost a month, comes, of course, an economic boom. The host team, F.C. Tucson, says all the MLS teams staying in town through February 25 will occupy 4,600 hotel rooms and that is not counting the several thousand fans who will travel to Tucson to see the games and follow their team.
Last year, with only eight teams in town, there was a $4 million positive impact just from team expenses. This year, FC Tucson expects revenue for the sports tourism event to be even larger."It shines a spotlight on Tucson as a destination and we have an opportunity to grow our tourism through the exposure that this event can provide," FC Tucson Sponsorship Director Greg Foster said.
The first-class Kino Sports Complex facility that FC Tucson provides to these MLS team is the reason why the teams come back every year. "We come here for the nice weather and the great facilities, the have hosted us really well, we hope to stride along," Sounders F.C. midfielder Cristian Roldan said. Kino was converted from baseball to soccer in less than six months and its certainly getting usage.
Preseason matches are scheduled through February 7th. Saturday morning's Desert Friendly match features 2016 MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers. Kick off is at 6:30 p.m. at Kino Sports Complex. Tickets start at $15. more information here.
Meanwhile, FC Tucson says their goal is to continue to grow MLS preseason as an event for Tucson. MLS players and coaching staff say they are looking forward to it.