AL Kidd, President of the San Diego Sports Commission
Soccer News: Soccer in San Diego
How can you really beat soccer in San Diego? When you bring together soccer, sun and sand with our famously fabulous weather, and then add in the great hotels and San Diego’s attractions – America’s Finest City easily becomes America’s Best Soccer City.
How big is soccer in San Diego? SoccerNation News asked the San Diego Sports Commission to tell us. We interviewed Al Kidd, president of the San Diego Hall of Champions and the San Diego Sports Commission (SDSC), to discover how San Diego ranks as a soccer city.
SNN: How popular is soccer in San Diego, America’s Finest City?
Al Kidd: Soccer is an incredibly popular sport in San Diego. We have great weather, but more importantly, San Diego has incredible facilities across the county—including the North County region—that enable us to host events of virtually any size, at any time of the year.
SNN: What makes San Diego a great spot for a soccer tournament?
Al Kidd: Soccer is a family-oriented sport, and one of the things we’ve learned here at the Sports Commission is that soccer events love coming to San Diego because it’s a fantastic city for a vacation. Most tournaments are multi-day affairs, which means mom, dad and the kids have a few days to play the sport they love, and also enjoy being in one of the most visited cities in the world. San Diego has excellent hotel options and properties that are second to none, and many of them are virtually stand-alone attractions offering mini-vacations for soccer players and families.
SNN: If people do not bring their tournaments here, what other cities compete with San Diego for soccer events?
Al Kidd: We believe that San Diego does not truly “compete” with other cities for soccer events given city’s attractions and the venues we can provide.
Often times, we will work together with other Sports Commissions on rotating events, or even come to the decision—in partnership with an event rights holder—that another city is the best choice for its project. We are always looking out for the best interest(s) of whichever events we consider.
SNN: Soccer teams often just focus on the field and the competition and miss taking advantage of what is around them. If a team is planning on coming to San Diego, what should they make time for? What are some of the most popular attractions for soccer players? How much time should they add to their trip?
Al Kidd: San Diego is one of the most amazing tourist cities in the world. Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, the Gaslamp Quarter, Mission/Pacific Beach, Del Mar, Solana Beach, La Jolla, Mission Bay and scores of other locations and attractions keep our visitors busy from the moment they arrive until they depart.
The best advice I can give someone visiting our city is to take in as much as possible during your stay and take advantage of programs like the Sports Commission’s Stay to Save program, which provides discounts to restaurants, attractions and more.
SNN: What does the Sports Commission do? Does every city have a Sports Commission? How can the commission help?
Al Kidd: The SDSC serves as the region’s only sports event development, marketing and sales organization, providing a one-stop, complete sports marketing agency for event rights holders.
Since its creation more than 50 years ago, SDSC has evolved into the cornerstone for all sports-related activities, events and conventions in San Diego. The organization presents the city as the premier destination for sporting events and contributes to the region’s economic sustainability through sports.
Not every city has a sports commission, but many that are focused on driving tourism through sports do, as it is a great way to drive tourism through event acquisition and development. The SDSC has worked on hundreds of soccer events, and has some of the most seasoned soccer professionals on staff. We also work with the organizers and owners of some of the largest tournaments in San Diego, which gives us access to the right people to help organize a tremendous event. If you are holding a major soccer event, you should contact us so we can help.
SNN: How does SDSC entice an event rights holder to bring their event to SD?
Al Kidd: We work in partnership with an event rights holder to determine their needs first; our model is to clearly understand the goals, scope and business model for each event with which we work. This allows us to present our numerous services—which include everything from event permitting to venue assessment/acquisition to volunteer recruitment … and everything in between.
SNN: Why are youth soccer tournaments so successful in SD?
Al Kidd: We believe the key to a successful youth soccer tournament is to build the most robust and engaging experience possible for both the kids playing and the parents that are along for support.
We ensure that the events on which we work are well-rounded, offer plenty of things for everyone to do, and put people in hotels that are experiences in and of themselves; we have some truly amazing hotel properties here in San Diego.
SNN: How do soccer tournaments impact the economy? How does soccer compare with other sports?
Al Kidd: One of the SDSC’s key goals is to drive the local economy through sports tourism. Soccer events support that goal perfectly, as they bring a large number of participants and family members to our city to play the games, and explore the many things San Diego has to offer.
Generally, soccer events do a great job of driving tourism dollars into our city, as they typically involve a family unit traveling together instead of a lone participant—as a runner in a marathon for example—which means more time spent at attractions and in hotels.
SNN: What soccer-related events is SDSC involved with?
Al Kidd: San Diego has some of the top tournaments in the country:
Elite Clubs National League Showcase Event
4th Annual Beach Soccer Jam Tournament Event
- April 28th – 29th, 2012 at Fiesta Island
2012 USASA National Veterans Cup
National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) 2012 National Championship
32nd Annual Surf Cup Tournament
- July 28-30 & Aug 4-6, 2012
2012 Copa Del Mar
NCAA Women’s College Cup
SNN: What soccer venues do you use to host tournaments/events?
- November 30 – December 2, 2012
Al Kidd: We have a number of excellent venues at our disposal, including:
- San Diego Polo Fields – 25 soccer fields, largest field complex in SD
- United States Olympic Training Center – 4-6 soccer fields
- UCSD – 10 soccer fields
- Ryan Park – 8 soccer fields
- Hickman Fields – 6 soccer fields
- Robb Park – 5 soccer fields
- 4S Ranch Rec Center – 5 soccer fields
- Rancho Bernardo Rec Center – 4 soccer fields
- El Corazon Field Complex – 20 soccer fields, due to open in 2014
SNN: Does San Diego need more fields?
Al Kidd: Soccer and field sports are one area where our city is very well prepared to host a large series of events, of virtually any size. That said, we strongly believe that the more venues that we have to offer—multi-sport or otherwise—the better off we as a city will be to continue to attract even more events to San Diego.
SNN: What about a Soccer Stadium in San Diego?
Al Kidd: Building stadiums in our city—and in California as a whole—is a very tricky proposition these days. However, this drives to the point in the question above … if we had a soccer stadium, I am certain we could recruit more events, and those that have an even larger national and international profile.
SNN: If one wants to see great soccer played in San Diego, what teams are here?
Al Kidd: San Diego is the home of one of the best soccer teams in the country! The San Diego Sockers just recently won back-to-back-to-back National PASL championships, and are currently riding a win streak of nearly 40 games. Their games are always fun and a great family affair. Scores of other teams play here, including two elite teams from the NPSL, San Diego Flash and San Diego Boca FC, along with San Diego SeaLions of the WPSL.
In addition, San Diego is blessed with quality soccer programs at SDSU, USD and UCSD for both men’s and women’s teams, plus premier soccer youth clubs that include the Surf Soccer Club, Nomads Soccer Club, Albion Soccer Club, San Diego Soccer Club and Nott’s Forest Soccer Club.
SNN: Could SD support an MLS team?
Al Kidd: It is difficult to know for certain if San Diego could support an MLS team financially, but it would certainly be interesting to explore further. If it were a matter of our citizens’ affinity for the sport and nothing else, I think an MLS team would flourish here. However, as we all know, there are many more things to consider with respect to a question like this.
Related Articles: Soccer in San Diego and the San Diego's Soccer Calendar