I grew up playing soccer on the streets of Mexico and on the fields of east Las Vegas. Ever since I could walk I’ve played the sport. Soccer made me the person I am today; it taught me leadership, discipline, teamwork, how to win and lose…and tie, and how to fall and get right back up. Soccer also helped me build lifelong friendships with my teammates and their families across Mexico, California and Nevada.
One of the fondest memories I have of my childhood is attending a professional soccer match in Mexico, at the Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, to watch one of the biggest rivalries in Latin America: Chivas FC vs. America FC. To this day, I can vividly recall walking into the stadium for the first time and watching thousands of people cheering so passionately for their team. That stadium was where the community came together; where city pride was built; where people cheered, laughed and cried together.
As a kid, playing soccer on the streets, I strived to play one day on that field and in front of that crowd. Now, I want my future children to experience that same excitement and adrenaline rush you can only get by walking into a soccer stadium. I want to build that sense of community and pride for Nevada’s families.
Professional soccer is not only good for the community, but also for our economy. Investing in professional soccer would fuel economic growth, create jobs, promote our beautiful city around the world and increase tourism. Hundreds of temporary construction jobs as well as permanent jobs would be created by the construction of a stadium and the presence of a professional soccer team. Weekly soccer games would attract more than 20,000 local and out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas, additionally boosting visits to hotels, casinos, shops and restaurants.
A stadium would allow Las Vegas to compete with other metropolitan cities for international friendly soccer matches, which will not only attract tourists from all over the country but also shine a spotlight on our city as games are televised nationally and internationally. A stadium could also be used as a multipurpose venue for rugby, football, rodeo and concerts. Las Vegas is losing out on millions of dollars each year by not having a modern, state-of-the-art stadium.
Soccer is indisputably the most popular sport on the planet and the fastest growing sport among youth in the United States. According to CNN, the 2-2 U.S. draw against Portugal in the 2014 World Cup isthe most-watched match in American history, with more than 25 million Americans tuning in. To put that number into perspective, the 2013 baseball World Series won by the Boston Red Sox and the San Antonio Spurs’ 4-1 win over the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals both averaged about 15 million viewers each. That means U.S. soccer trails only NFL and college football as the most-watched games. Moreover, the U.S. national team was the second best-supported club in Brazil, behind only the hosts; American supporters bought 196,838 tickets for the World Cup.
American interest in soccer is growing and that bodes well for the sport’s future in the United States. Our nation’s rapidly changing demographics – especially from waves of immigrants from Latin America – indicate that soccer will only continue to grow in popularity.
Every four years, the World Cup reminds us of the passion, love, and excitement all nations have for the sport and its unparalleled ability to unite people around the world, regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. A professional soccer team in Las Vegas would bring that same sense of unity, passion and entertainment to our city every week, not just every four years. An investment in bringing professional soccer to Las Vegas is an investment in the fabric of our state. It’s time for Las Vegas to get into the game and score a goal.