BROWNSVILLE, RGV – RGV FC Toros, the professional soccer team that plays its games at HEB Park in Edinburg, has found a new partner in the lower Rio Grande Valley.
Bert Garcia, president of the Toros, met up with Tino Villarreal, chairman of Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, at an RGG LIVE event held at Brownsville Sports Park on Monday. They had never met before but immediately hit it off.
After viewing what he described as amazing facilities, Garcia has agreed to have the Toros play a friendly at the park, possibly against a top team from Matamoros. In addition, the Toros will hold trials there and have some academy games there.
“I am blown away by the facilities here. I think he (Tino Villarreal) counted 14 soccer fields and to have the vision and mentality they have and to be such a sports-oriented city with such a facility, I am blown away,” Garcia said.
“It is non-stop for me how we are going to be able to bring our brand, the Toros brand, over here, to make sure the kids of Brownsville are able to enjoy the professional sports that we have in the Valley.”
Villarreal agreed that the connection he made with Garcia was productive.
“Bert is a great guy. I had never met him before today but I feel like our visions align as far as what we want to do for the youth of the Rio Grande Valley,” Villarreal said.
Rio Grande Guardian publisher Mark Hanna said he was pleased to connect Garcia with Villarreal.
“This is what we try to do, build bridges. In this case between the Upper and Lower Valley,” Hanna said. “Hearing Bert and Tino talk during our livestream about the impact soccer can have on our region is unbelievable. To hear them talk about one of our very own students from South Texas one day playing in the World Cup is beyond exciting for our region.”
RGV FC Toros is the development affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. During the RGG LIVE event, Garcia said it is not out beyond the realms of possibility to have a Valley native play World Cup soccer for the United States or Mexico within the next ten years.
“First things first,” Garcia told the Rio Grande Guardian later. “We want to give the kids and the young adults here an opportunity to partake in professional sports, so a trial would be necessary. It is evident that Brownsville is king when it comes to soccer – at the state level, not just in the Valley. I want to make sure these kids get an opportunity and that they know there is an opportunity for them to have a career in sports, to have a career in soccer. So, a trial will be important.”
Come February, a friendly could be taking place involving the Toros at the Brownsville Sport Park, Garcia said, after touring the park’s facilities.
“We want the team to come and play a friendly here, hopefully against a Matamoros team or someone at that level, Division Two level. We are going to do those two things right off the bat. And then, have some of our academies play against their academies. I think they have already been doing this but we want to take it to another level.”
We are here LIVE talking sports tourism and the Brownsville Sports Park Turf Project unveiling with Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation Chairman Tino Villarreal and RGVFC President Bert Garcia.
Posted by Rio Grande Guardian on Monday, August 21, 2017
Major League Soccer
Asked if the Toros could one day become a Major League Soccer team itself, Garcia told the Rio Grande Guardian:
“We have the market size, 1.3 million. I think we have the capacity, media-wise to get to what the MLS is requiring. Hopefully, this does not sound negative but we do not have enough support yet to say we can support a major league team. The Valley needs to support it more, not because I am the president, but if we are ever to put a stamp on major league sports people need to support it, people need to know what is in their backyard. There is no way you can bring a major league sport and decide not to show up.”
Support from Mexico
FC Toros could get a much bigger attendance if soccer-mad fans in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon came to see games. Asked if this could happen in a big way, Garcia said:
“One thing I love about the soccer fan is they expect quality. They want quality. If you do not give them quality, they are not going to come out and see you. I love that. I love that kind of pressure. It makes us work harder to get there, to get a quality product on the pitch. Once they see quality, they (Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon soccer fans) will want to start coming and they will continue to come.”
Asked if there was anything else he wanted to say to soccer fans in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Garcia said:
“Thank you all at the Rio Grande Guardian and everyone at the City of Brownsville. Partnerships like this are going to take soccer to a whole new level in the Rio Grande Valley. Once again, I sound like a broken record but having a Valley team represented in a state tournament year after year, there is no reason to stop there. Let’s get kids to play pro-ball. Let’s get kids to go to the Olympics, let’s get kids to go to the World Cup, representing the U.S. or Mexico. That is my vision. I look forward to partnering with the City of Brownsville because I think we can make it happen.”
Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation perspective
Villarreal said Garcia’s comments were music to his ears.
“Having FC Toros and a Division Two professional team here in the Rio Grande Valley is a really big step for all of us. They can be housed in Edinburg but they are RGV FC, which means they are a football club for the entire Valley. I believe having more exposure here in Brownsville and having more access to our athletes is going to pay dividends, not only for our kids that participate with them but eventually make the Dynamo team, and, as Bert said, one day see them represent us in the World Cup,” Villarreal told the Rio Grande Guardian.
Asked about Garcia’s proposal to connect FC Toros with Brownsville, Villarreal said:
“We are happy. That is exactly what the Brownsville Sports Park was created for, to create partnerships with entities that align with our vision. Who better than Bert and RGV FC Toros? I think they are the perfect fit to have here, housed in Brownsville at the Sports Park.”
Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation has committed $550,000 for a two-phase project aimed at replacing the artificial sports turf and scoreboard. The first part is now complete with a state-of-the-art artificial pitch in place.
“The board was very meticulous about making sure that the artificial turf we put in here was first and foremost good for soccer, that the ball would roll as it would on natural grass. We looked at multiple vendors but we chose the one that was most soccer-friendly,” Villarreal said.
“We also decided to make the lines on the pitch permanent because we do want to start renting the pitch for play-off games and for different types of football activity here.”
We are back! Tune in for a tour of Brownsville Sports Park with Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation and RGVFC.
Posted by Rio Grande Guardian on Monday, August 21, 2017
Visit by Dallas Cowboys
Villarreal said that on the Saturday before Labor Day, Sept. 2, BCIC will have an event at Brownsville Sports Park with Dallas Cowboys stars Jaylon Smith and Zack Martin.
“These two great Cowboys to come down here and kick off the football season with our families and local teams. All the ISD teams, St. Joseph Academy, Los Fresnos and Point Isabel are going to be invited. They will hear a good, strong message from two amazing Dallas Cowboys players, Jaylon Smith and Zack Martin. There are going to be some surprises and opportunities for fans to get an autograph and get some photos taken with these Cowboys.”
Asked for a wrap-up remark at the end of the RGG LIVE event, Villarreal said: “Thank you for exposing the Brownsville Sports Park. It has been here for nine years and sometimes it feels like we are unveiling it for the first time. And that is okay. As long as the word gets out and people can come see the beautiful facility, that is exactly what it was built for.”