What’s jeopardizing soccer’s Surf Cup?
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Eleven-year-old Tara Shelton was very excited. Her soccer team, Seattle United, had been picked to compete in the exclusive Surf Cup in San Diego, where each year more than 370 youth soccer teams battle it out during the two-week tournament on fields in Del Mar.
Tara traveled to San Diego with both her parents for a week in August. Her team booked hotel rooms at a nearby Marriott, planned out meals at a variety of local restaurants, and saw a movie—Ice Age—one afternoon. While they didn’t have time for tourist attractions, what with all the soccer games, her mother, Almie Borromeo, said she had budgeted about $500 to spend.
Organizers of the Surf Cup say spending from soccer tournament visitors packs a large economic punch for San Diego. In a letter to Mayor Jerry Sanders, Mike Connerley, the president of the Surf Cup, said last year the tournament attracted almost 125,000 people, including more than 20,000 travelers to San Diego who booked more than 25,000 hotel rooms.
Using data collected directly from visiting soccer teams, Connerley said he calculated the tournament brought $25 million in economic impact to the region last year.
Now, Connerley and other Surf Cup organizers worry they may have to take that money elsewhere.
The Surf Cup, along with its partner organization of youth soccer teams called San Diego Surf Club, subleases its fields from the San Diego Polo Club. The polo club’s 25-year lease with the city of San Diego expired this year, and while the city could renew it, it has chosen instead to explore its options.
Alex Roth, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, said in the coming months the city will accept proposals from other prospective tenants who want to rent the 80 acres of land just south of Via de la Valle near the mouth of the San Dieguito River.
“We want to make sure we’re entering a lease going forward that’s going to maximize income and we want a tenant in there that the community is happy with,” Roth said. “It makes sense to go through the process to see what options are out there.”