This week, Tucson hosted the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl. The preliminary numbers show that it was a great success for Tucson.
According to Visit Tucson, the agency that works to get more tourism and tourism revenue for our community, Wyoming fans blew through their 5,000 ticket allocation and, according to estimates, brought over 10,000 fans to the game. Georgia State fans accounted for an additional 3,000 in ticket sales.
Even though last year’s game did not sell as many tickets as 2017’s, Tucson made $8.6 million in lodging revenue between Christmas and New Years, more than the previous three Arizona Bowls did. This year, with the strong ticket sales among Wyoming and Georgia State fans, the hope is that we can beat last year’s number.
That is just lodging revenue, by the way, and doesn’t count the boost in sales for local restaurants and retailers.
As I said last week, the Arizona Bowl is a great opportunity for us to showcase our community. I think we did that well this year. Now that they’ve seen what a great city we have, those fans and their friends will be coming back soon.
Sports tourism has long been a passion of mine, but we also need more places for our kids to play organized sports.
Pima County has been working on expanding the Kino Sports Complex and they will be ready to unveil their new facilities on Wednesday, January 15 at 4 pm.
I want to give you a little bit of history, and yes, it involves tooting my own horn. Back in 2010, I met with a few people from the local soccer community and had the idea of getting a Major League Soccer preseason match here in Tucson. The game, held in 2011, turned out to be a huge success and led MLS to want to have Tucson host preseason.
The city didn’t have the facilities, but the county did. So four teams trained on some fields previously used for Major League Baseball preseason. Over the next few years, the county converted those fields (using money from the White Sox that they had to give the county when they moved their Spring training) to a soccer facility.
These new facilities and fields, located south of Ajo Way near the freeway, will be able to host tournaments, both local and, I hope, regional and national. They won’t just be for soccer: The Kino North facility has hosted football, rugby and lacrosse tournaments.
What’s most important to me is that we have a deficit of ball fields at our public parks. It’s led to conflicts and competition between our local sports leagues. Having this new facility, with twelve fields, will be good for our kids and all of us that love sports.
Here’s to a great 2020…it’s not about hindsight but looking ahead.