Valley welcomes Mexican soccer clubs
By DANIEL CASAREZ
Vida en el Valle/McClatchy News
(Published Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 06:39PM)
Could Central California become a stomping ground for the Mexican soccer league?
Yes, judging from the 17,000 passionate fans at Fresno's Chukchansi Park in June.
This is what Fred Godínez, the chief executive officer at Latino Entertainment, hopes to duplicate with his next venture: An exhibition match between México's Monarcas de Morelia and San Luis FC in Sacramento.
Morelia and San Luis FC will break the four-year drought of professional soccer at Raley Field, the home of the Sacramento River Cats, the Triple-A franchise of the Oakland A's.
Godínez hopes to fill the stadium's 16,730 seats. He admits, however, the entire venture was simply good luck for Sacramento.
"It was simple logistics. I had (Morelia) slated for Denver, but simple logistics; they don't like to take connecting flights. So we'll be having Monarcas de Morelia playing against San Luis at Raley Field," said Godínez.
"And we will still have the $10 tickets available for kids."
Being that México's Clausura tournament is in full swing, most Mexican clubs will remain in the country to concentrate on league play. San Luis FC is scheduled to play against the San José Earthquakes in a separate exhibition on Sept. 6. Godinez merely saw the opportunity to match the two.
"They're going to be right here. It's not far away. So I made it happen," he added.
Alice Pérez, the president of the Sacramento Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, sees this as a prime opportunity.
"First of all, the participation at the game is going to be much higher than what they normally have. And I think, secondly, they will definitely see an increase in revenue for local business," said Pérez.
The U.S.'s Aug. 15 win on the road in México helps draw interest, added Godínez.
"It's really an international event because of players like Federico Vilar (Morelia player). He plays for the Argentinian national team. And especially because of Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis). He's the guy who scored for the U.S. in the historic win against Mexico, in Mexico," said Godinez.
Fiscal, a 26-year-old southern California native who suits up for San Luis FC, scored for the 1-0 win over El Tri at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. The victory shattered a 75-year streak of losses for the U.S. on Mexican soil.
Godínez believes the flock of players scheduled play Raley Field has prompted Azteca América and Azteca México to televise the match. Raley Field executives are keeping a close eye on the entire event.
"We're actually expecting a very large crowd; the noisemakers, the traffic. " said Zak Brasch, spokesman at Raley Field. "We've had 15,000 on July 3. So we'll be ready."
Godinez said one reason the Club América and Jaguares de Chiapas friendly in Fresno was so successful was because fans were not gouged at the ticket office.
"I know that a lot of the fans are farmworkers. Where are they going to get $60 to pay for one ticket? And this is what goes on like in places in Los Ángeles for the same matches," he said.
"When you have a family trying to survive in this economy, you don't take advantage of it. And you don't cancel on them. Too many promoters here wait to see what the tickets prices are like, and if they don't like the numbers, they cancel shows. We can bring affordable entertainment like to places like Fresno and Sacramento, and we don't cancel and let our purchasers down."
Adding to the local interest is the news that two teams from the local adult soccer league, Central California Soccer League, will play an exhibition match prior to Morelia and San Luis. To generate additional interest, the Fresno Fuego played an exhibition against the Turlock Express before the Aguilas and Jaguares took the field at Chukchansi Park. Many of the Fuego players invited fans through Facebook and sent Tweets on Twitter.
In the works for Godínez are more Mexican exhibition matches in the future, but that's not all. He's researching international teams from Europe and central and southern América for the possibility of promoting exhibition matches next year.
"I would think the market would support having an annual event here," added Pérez, "There would be a consistent flow of revenue. Several years ago, we had a rodeo event that had come and that catered to the Latino community. And with that, you had a tremendous amount of support that came out. When the Kings (NBA Sacramento Kings) had recruited a Latino to play on their team, there was an increase there as well.