The Pima County Board of Supervisors gave the go-ahead Tuesday for permanent and semi-permanent soccer fields at the Kino Sports Complex.
A one-year agreement between the county and the FC Tucson soccer team is being finalized.
The agreement will help FC Tucson bring big events, including Major League Soccer spring training, to Tucson.
"This is an important step in bringing some professional sports back into our community," said supervisor Richard Elías, who wore his scarf from the FC Tucson supporters group, the Cactus Pricks.
Work to convert the fields has already begun.
Here's what needs to be done:
• A backhoe is digging six inches deep to remove the clay infield on Field 5, which will become the home field for the semi-pro team.
• Next, the first base foul-line fence will be moved back about 10 feet to allow for a rectangle-shaped field instead of a diamond, said Chris Bartos, director of the Pima County Stadium District.
• In about three weeks, giant rolls of sod will be laid out over a sand base.
• Later, bleacher seating for up to 2,000 fans and concession stands will be installed close to the west edge of the field. "You're going to be a lot closer to the action," Bartos said.
• After that, when time and money allow, will come the scoreboard, press box, an autograph area, and other features, Bartos said.
• Later this year, four more fields north of Ajo Way will be converted to soccer fields. They'll stay that way as long as soccer is growing and successful, said Pima County administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
New fields boost chances for big events
Officials hope having five high-quality fields and a soccer stadium will help Tucson land big events.
• Major League Soccer: FC Tucson plans to draw 10 teams for spring training next year and plans to bid on hosting the MLS Combine.
• Semi-pro soccer: FC Tucson's home field will be Field 5 at Kino, and other Premier Development League teams will play here.
• Youth events: "We constantly hear from folks in Phoenix and elsewhere: 'We don't want to go to Tucson and play on dirt and rocks,'" said Ted Schmidt, president of the Tucson Soccer Academy.
• Soccer tourism: Businessman Bruce Washburn said events like the Desert Diamond Cup and regional youth tournaments mean sales for hotels and restaurants.
Contact reporter Becky Pallack at 573-4346 or firstname.lastname@example.org