Soccer is becoming a major sport in San Diego. According to a recent study by Gild Edge Soccer Marketing, a company that studies the popularity of soccer across the United States, San Diego is one of the country’s top soccer markets. The city already has a 5-division men’s amateur soccer league, multiple soccer clubs for all ages and a first-class university soccer team.
The aim of the study was to look at interest in soccer on a market level by assessing a number of different factors, says Gilt Edge founder and president, John Guppy. Guppy’s company put together data including soccer TV viewership numbers for domestic and international games as well as attendance at local soccer games, conversations and engagement on social media platforms and the frequency of searches related to soccer on search engines such as Google and Yahoo. The goal was to rank the country’s major cities according to their interest and active participation in the sport, which still lacks the following and fan base that it enjoys in Europe, Africa and Latin America.
The Gild Edge study is the first of its kind in the United States. When all the number-crunching and analysis was completed, the company compiled a list of the top markets for soccer in the United States. Leading the way was Los Angeles, followed by Texan cities Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth. Washington D.C., New York, Seattle, Denver and El Paso rounded out the list, followed by San Diego in ninth place. Los Angeles to Denver offered no surprises because all are home to Major League Soccer franchises, like LA Galaxy, D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids, but San Diego is exceptional for its interest in the sport because the city has no soccer team at present.
With the San Diego Chargers considering a move to Los Angeles or Oakland, there could be soon room in the city for its first-ever soccer team. And if the Chargers get the new stadium they have been asking for and stay in San Diego, there could be enough to host a soccer team. Former Padres owner John Moores is a soccer fan and played a crucial role in bringing the MLS All-Star game to Qualcomm in 1999. If the Chargers do move to the proposed downtown stadium, the land in Mission Valley where the Qualcomm Stadium is located could go up grabs and a new stadium to be shared between the San Diego State University Aztecs and a Major League Soccer franchise could theoretically be built.
The Major Soccer League is planning to expand to 24 teams by 2018. A second LA-based soccer team is already scheduled to start playing in the City of Angels. There are rumors that the MLS could decide to increase the scheduled roster to 28 teams in the near future, which would put San Diego on the short-list to host a new team.
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(all data current as of 6/24/2017)
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