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A photo from the news conference held to announce plans for a new soccer stadium and soccer team in Edinburg. From left to right: Jake Edwards, president of United Soccer League, stadium developer Alonzo Cantu, and Rio Grande Valley FC Toros project coordinators Rene Bert Garcia and Rene Borrego.

EDINBURG, RGV – A surge in business over the last several years has paved the way for new features that will make a lasting impact on quality of life in Edinburg, according to Gus Garcia, executive director of Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.

When asked about the elements in place in the city that have made the creation of a new arena and a new soccer stadium possible, Garcia said it amounted to interested parties in the business sector spurring the need for new draws to the city.

“We have been working on attracting businesses for two and a half years, some of these businesses you see coming up have been that long in the making,” said Edinburg EDC executive director Gus Garcia. “We were courting these businesses, and when they knew of the arena, coincidentally guess what else we got out of it, a soccer stadium.”

As reported in a recent story by the Rio Grande Guardian, Garcia points to multi-million investments being made in his city that have enabled the construction of significant projects including new medical school, a new hospital tower, a new indoor arena, a new soccer stadium and a new courthouse.

These major projects are only fueling the city’s reputation as a destination city for entertainment, and in the case of the soccer stadium will attract fans from Mexico, San Antonio and Houston, as well as, potentially, national attention via ESPN-TV.

“When you say soccer, it’s synonymous with Mexico. Now you’re not going to have just your local team here, you will have regional teams and UIL events,” Garcia said.

According to Garcia, a Mexican international game has already been scheduled as well as competition between Mexican professional teams and USL teams.

“You will have MLS teams that have already committed to coming. Not only will you have professional MLS teams, we are also talking about CONCACAF,” Garcia said, referring to the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football. CONCACAF’s main function is to organize matches for national teams and clubs, and to conduct World Cup qualifying tournaments.

“We have a soccer specific facility where you can have CONCACAF games here at our facilities,” Garcia said.

The City of Edinburg looks ahead to at least 130 new events a year once the new Bert Ogden Arena and soccer stadium opens, Garcia said.

The value of construction for the stadium has been confirmed at $16.8 million according to the city’s most recent building permit reports.

Last summer, United Soccer League (USL) officially announced its 25th franchise, the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. Slated to begin operations this year, the football club will be owned by Lonestar LLC and operated using a hybrid system with Major League Soccer franchise, Houston Dynamo.

The hybrid affiliation is a first for a MLS-USL team. In December, the Dynamo and Toros announced Wilmer Cabrera as the team’s head coach.

The team will play in a 9,400-seat soccer stadium on the site of the former Super Splash waterpark on Raul Longoria Road, and has the capability to be expanded to 24,000 seats. The stadium is planning for a combined 16 home games, not including exhibition games.

The soccer stadium will also connect to the city’s adjacent Municipal Park via a bridge, and will utilize the park for tourism events and regional tournaments. The stadium itself will contain playground equipment, covered park benches, amphitheaters and water features like ponds or small lakes.

“They are completely renovating, re-sodding, lighting and irrigating all of our new soccer fields,” Garcia said. These are brand new soccer fields, and are located at the existing Municipal Park. The city along with the EDC’s help is also doing an additional three new full-size soccer fields in partnership with the school district located on Doolittle Road.

“The point is we are going to have a lot more soccer fields for community events and Parks and Recreation available to the city.”