Soccer is a big deal in San Diego. Just look at any collection of fields on any given weekend and you’ll see some kind of youth tournament going on.
But Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing, a company that measures the popularity of soccer across U.S. cities, found San Diego is one of the best soccer markets in the entire nation.
“The goal of the study was to look holistically at soccer interest on a market level through the aggregation of a number of different insights” said John Guppy, President and Founder of Gilt Edge.
The company compiled data including soccer TV viewership (for games on all continents, not just domestic), attendance, participation, social conversation, and digital search, to, as Guppy says, “… compile an objective quantifiable ranking of markets.”
Gilt Edge says this is the first study of this kind ever conducted in America. They also added market population based on Nielsen Designated Market Area (DMA) to each data set and applied a factor weighting to attempt to even out large variations in population. When all the work was done, here’s not the Top-10 looked:
1) Los Angeles
3) Dallas/Fort Worth
4) Washington, D.C.
5) New York
8) El Paso, TX
9) San Diego
10) McAllen/Brownsville/Harlingen, TX (southern point of Texas on the Mexico border)
The first seven markets are no surprise since all are home to Major League Soccer franchises. Of the three non-MLS markets San Diego is far and away the largest at DMA #28. The Texas trio is #86 and El Paso is #92. That leads us to the inevitable thought of bringing Major League Soccer to town.
MLS would be open to putting a team in our town, something league Commissioner Don Garber confirmed late last year. Interestingly, if the Chargers get to build a new stadium in Downtown San Diego it just might happen. It is no secret that former Padres owner John Moores is a soccer fan and was instrumental in bringing the MLS All-Star game to Qualcomm Stadium in 1999.
Moores also has ties to San Diego State University. He and his ex-wife Becky made donations to the school to get Tony Gwynn Stadium built. If the Chargers do go Downtown it would not be out of the realm of possibility for Moores to push San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is allow SDSU to have the Mission Valley land where Qualcomm Stadium currently sits at a substantial discount so the school could expand its campus … including the construction of a 35,000 seat stadium to be shared by the Aztecs football team and an MLS franchise.
MLS is set on expanding to 24 teams by 2018 when a second Los Angeles-based team is scheduled to start play but there is talk of taking the league to 28 teams in the future. That means San Diego would be on the short-short list of expansion sites, or one of the top destinations for a team to relocate to.
Yet another domino in the long list of things that “just might” happen if the Bolts can figure out a way to get a new facility constructed in the East Village that would be tied to a Convention Center expansion based on the Briggs Initiative that … well that’s all a conversation for a different day.