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New push to recruit sporting events to San Diego

Posted at 3:38 PM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 20:37:59-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — With the focus this week on the Super Bowl up in Los Angeles, San Diego leaders are stepping up to say not so fast. On Thursday, they launched an initiative meant to bring world-class sporting events to America's Finest City.

On Oct. 27, 2018, more than 60,000 fans packed into what was then SDCCU stadium to watch Notre Dame take on Navy. It was the last sellout at the long-gone venue, but the event put on by the nonprofit San Diego Bowl Game Association brought the region an estimated $25 million.

"From that success, we realized that we can do more for San Diego's tourism industry and San Diego tourism in general," said Mark Neville, the association's CEO.

That next step is happening now. On Thursday, the organization joined forces with the city's Tourism Authority and Tourism Marketing District to launch Sports San Diego. Its goal will be to recruit sporting events to San Diego, helping them navigate permitting and other necessities for a smooth launch.

The more events come, the more tourism dollars and jobs that come with them.

"We are a city that knows how to host major sporting events," said Mayor Todd Gloria. "We have a whole team that stands ready for anyone who wants to come here to put on a major event, to film an incredible movie, to do that kind of work because we love showing off our great, big beautiful city."

Sports tourism in San Diego took a hit when the Chargers left in 2017, meaning visiting fans did not take up hotel rooms on fall weekends.

But that doesn't mean the city gave up. For instance, the recent Farmers Insurance Open and the Breeders' Cup got the region national TV exposure.

And more events are coming, including the Transplant Games in July, the Holiday Bowl in December, the world lacrosse championships in 2023, and the state games of America in 2024. Leaders hope to recruit others in between.

Tourism economics says nearly 180 million people traveled to a sporting event in 2019, spending $45.1 billion in doing so. Founding partners of Sports San Diego include Qualcomm Technologies, Kaiser Permanent, General Dynamics NASSCO and Rady Children's Hospital.