Pima County will spend $280,000 to bring to Tucson 10 teams from the professional soccer league as well as a team from Mexico for two weeks of preseason training early next year.
The decision on Tuesday by the Pima County Board of Supervisors is crucial in establishing a long-term, sustainable model for spring training for Major League Soccer here, said Greg Foster, one of the co-owners of Football Club Tucson.
While the investment will benefit the professional soccer league, Foster believes the new preseason training will also provide an asset to local residents, with families being able to watch their favorite players compete before the season.
A franchisee in the United Soccer League's Premier Development League, FC Tucson has been working to bring teams to the area since 2011.
Under the terms of the county proposal, up to $200,000 total would be given to 10 MLS teams to offset some of their costs to train in Tucson, and another $80,000 would go to bring a team from Mexico for a competition.
The county funds would be given to the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau for the promotion of tourism related to MLS preseason training. The bureau will give the money to the pro teams.
No contracts are in place, so it is unclear which teams will be practicing here.
County officials predict the deal could inject $3.9 million into the local economy from spending by the teams, players, media and fans.
Currently, the county gives the Kino Stadium District an annual subsidy of about $1.5 million from the general fund to pay for maintenance and operations. Taxpayers are also on the hook for $3.3 million a year until 2016 to pay off debt associated with the stadium district.
Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4346.