Opinion: As Mayor, I know San Diego is a sports city that will welcome Major League Soccer

Gloria is the mayor of San Diego. He lives in Little Italy.

January 2017 is a time alive in San Diego’s sports filth.

At that time, the Chargers announced that they would dare the dreaded move to Los Angeles. It’s a move they’ve threatened the city with for years.

Her departure seemed to continue the narrative of whether San Diego is a “real” big city. San Diego didn’t have the huge LA media market, nor did it have corporate sponsors. It was noted that our fanbase showed little enthusiasm and our sports teams rarely made it to the big games. “San Diego just isn’t a sports city,” people said.

The adage that it’s always darkest before dawn has never seemed more apt than at this point in 2017 — because the last few years have proven those who rejected the civic spirit of San Diego dead wrong.

San Diego is a sports city, and the people of San Diego have come enthusiastically and proudly to rally and stand united behind the teams that represent our city.

When the Padres made the playoffs last fall, the stands at Petco Park were packed.

When the San Diego State University Aztecs men’s basketball team made the Final Four, we flocked to Houston to cheer them on and gathered here at home in Viejas Arena.

We’ll always remember where we were when Lamont Butler hit that iconic buzzer to defeat Florida Atlantic University and send the team to the NCAA Finals.

Check out how quickly football teams Loyal and Wave were able to garner an avid following that has already created fun traditions for the games – as if the teams have been here for decades and not just a few short years.

Watch as San Diego was once again selected to host the Breeder’s Cup at Del Mar Racetrack in 2024 and this summer’s World Lacrosse Men’s Championship, thanks in large part to the dedication of the San Diego Seals team owners .

And now the next frontier of San Diego esports is looming as Major League Soccer announces that San Diego will be the home of their newest team.

This victory clearly shows that San Diego is a sports city – and that has a positive impact on our region.

It also shows that when we unite behind a common goal, we’re a city that gets things done. The Snapdragon Stadium, where the new MLS team will play, was a feat of civic action. Less than four years after San Diego voted overwhelmingly to have the city sell the Mission Valley Stadium site to SDSU, the city and university had entered into a fair sale and purchase agreement, and a beautiful new stadium was called the fans Welcome to SDSU Football Games. Snapdragon Stadium also took the spotlight when the first major league team to play there, the San Diego Wave, repeatedly broke National Women’s Soccer League attendance records.

This tremendous success should give San Diego optimism about what the new sports arena could bring as part of the Midway redevelopment project, of which arena partner is renowned sports and entertainment venue Legends.

We should welcome and encourage community and business leaders to think big in sport. Sports tourism is a boon to our local economy, with San Diego events generating an estimated 300,000+ room nights each year.

This is good for the city’s finances because our hotel room nightly tax is one of the few revenue streams that the city doesn’t have to share with the county and state. This makes it one of the top sources of funding we use to fund parks, libraries, road repairs, public safety and more.

When our sports teams attract fans and major events attract visitors to the city, so do our small businesses – restaurants, bars, shops and caterers.

Sport is a great way to bring our city together. As Mayor, I’m excited that San Diego is really showing off with this unifying force and showing what a loyal, loud and proud city we are as we cheer on the teams that have invested in us.

Above all, our athletic teams prove what we all know about the San Diego spirit: never count us out.


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