FC Tucson gave fans a taste of what the upcoming season will be like with an exhibition against the University of New Mexico on Saturday night.
But, according to chief business officer Chris Keeney, it’s a morsel of the buffet still to come.
For its third USL Premier Development League season, the club plans to have fireworks following its July 4 match, a kid’s zone that will include a miniature soccer field to play on during each match and, like last season, a handful of doubleheaders. And, in a rarity in the entertainment world, all of this at prices lower than they were last season.
“We want it to be the ‘Summer of Soccer,’ “ Keeney said. “FC Tucson has a brand new stadium with excellent facilities. With the (Tucson) Padres not here anymore, there’s nothing on a Saturday night to do on the sporting level. There’s the World Cup this summer, and FC Tucson has put together a damned good team.
“This is going to be a great place to get your fix for something that’s distinctly got your city name in it. It’ll be your one-stop shop for summer entertainment needs.”
In the first fix for the fans this season, FC Tucson drew 0-0 with New Mexico at Kino Sports Complex North Stadium on Saturday.
“We have a team that’s going to be representing Tucson in a national tournament, a tournament that has 64 teams all over the nation,” Keeney said. “There’s a tremendous amount of optimism that the team will do well this season.”
After reaching the USL PDL playoffs in its first season in 2012, FC Tucson was eliminated late in the season in 2013.
This year’s squad will have some key names retuning to the fold, including midfielders Ricardo Velazco and Eli Galbraith-Knapp. Both were their usual active selves, making life difficult for the New Mexico defense Saturday night.
Forward Odaine Sinclair, who played indoor soccer professionally for the St. Louis Ambush before arriving in the Old Pueblo, also had some enticing moments during Saturday’s exhibition that will no doubt be a boost when FC Tucson opens the USL PDL season Thursday on the road in Provo, Utah, against the BYU Cougars.
When the team opens its home USL PDL season on May 17 against Orange County, fans can get in for $7 in the Eegee’s Corner section or for $10 in the main grandstand. Keeney said the cost for a walk-up single-game ticket last season was $14.
The fans aren’t the only ones who will be benefiting this season. With the help of Tucson Medical Center as a sponsor, the team is doubling the number of players in the youth academy to 60. The program is free for players.
“Folks can’t say there’s not a way to afford” coming to the matches, Keeney said. “We just want everybody here.”