Wearing blue Freedom Soccer Club uniforms, three members of the Tucker family - left to right, Ellie, 9; Gabriel, 3; and Hannah, 6 - help with the groundbreaking on a new Kino Sports Complex stadium.


There were more soccer shorts than dress shirts at Thursday's Kino Sports Complex stadium groundbreaking.

And when it came time for ceremonial shovels to scoop up the sandy dirt behind a goal, the digging was turned over to the experts - the children.

It all seemed fitting considering the words delivered by FC Tucson and Pima County officials during Thursday's ceremony.

"For all of you young people, this is your field," Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias said. "For FC Tucson, this is your field. For all of us who live here and make this our home, this is our place."

Elias even led the crowd of about 100 in a chant of "Our field, our place, our home."

The stadium and surrounding facilities, a $2.8 million investment expected to be finished in late October, will be home to FC Tucson matches, MLS spring training and numerous community soccer events.

"I think when it's all told, each year over 100,000 people will visit this complex, Kino Sports Complex, to either play or watch soccer," said Greg Foster, one of FC Tucson's co-managing partners. "We want people to consider Kino their home for soccer - whether it's coming to soccer events or a place to play or a place to watch other people play. That's what our legacy is all about."

Among those likely to be making numerous trips to the complex are Annalisa Tucker and her children - Ellie, 9; Joshua, 8; Hannah, 6; and Gabriel, 3.

All four play on Freedom Soccer Club teams and all four helped with the moving of the project's first dirt Thursday.

"I didn't expect to have my kids doing this today, but they love to play in the dirt," Tucker said. "This is great because soccer is such a big part of our lives."

FC Tucson coach and managing partner Rick Schantz knows what the new facility will mean to the community.

"When I was growing up, I never got a chance to play on fields like this," Schantz said. "It's always been my dream. I remember sitting with my dad watching 'Field of Dreams' and somebody saying 'If you build it, they will come.' That's been my mantra since we started this whole program. I've tried before at some of my clubs that I've worked at to build soccer fields. This is far beyond and exceeded some of my dreams."

The main stand is expected to seat about 1,800, and bleachers will be placed behind both endlines to boost the total to more than 2,000. The capacity could be expanded to 5,000 in the future.

The new facilities, which will sit on what is currently called Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 1, are about 200 feet from where FC Tucson currently plays.

The team will open its USL Premier Development League home season at North Field No. 5 on May 18 at 7:30 p.m.