Snapdragon Stadium hasn't been finished yet but it's already bringing in some serious sporting events.
On Monday, the new facility in Mission Valley became the official home of the 2023 World Lacrosse Championship. This is basically the World Cup of lacrosse. 30 countries will meet in an 11-day tournament featuring more than 100 games from June 21 through July 1, 2023.
The opening and closing matches will be held at the as-of-yet-uncompleted Snapdragon while several others will be held at USD's Torero Stadium and another facility on the Toreros campus. It's the first time this event will be held in California.
The San Diego Seals are a big part of the group that landed the championship and will be heavily involved in hosting it. Seals owner Joseph Tsai, who also owns the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, understands international sports better than most. Tsai was born in Taiwan, holds Canadian citizenship, and lives in San Diego and Hong Kong. He played lacrosse at Yale and has often spoken of his love for the sport.
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Tsai is one of the driving forces behind bringing this event to America's Finest City because he wants it to be known as one of the World's Finest Cities.
"We think of San Diego as one of the largest cities in America but internationally it's not quite well known yet," says Tsai. "This event will bring 30 teams from 30 different countries to San Diego for people to experience what it's like. So, for me, it's really meaningful."
There is another, even larger reason for bringing this event to San Diego. The Olympic Games head to Los Angeles in 2028 and lacrosse is trying to become an Olympic event. The sport now has 75 international federations, more than enough to justify it as an Olympic medal event.
World Lacrosse expects representatives from the International Olympic Committee to attend matches in 2023 and believes experiencing the event in-person will go a long way towards making lacrosse a truly global game.
"I think it's huge," says Tsai. "I think if they can see the game and how it's played and the camaraderie of the players they're going to get a very visceral sense of what the sport is about. Seeing is believing so I think it'll be huge."
The IOC is expected to talk about the potential for new sports joining future games at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, which start on February 4 on NBC 7.