The Padres trained in Yuma from 1969 to 1993, with the team shifting to Peoria Stadium when opened in 1994. In recent years the ballpark has hosted independent North American League baseball in the form of the Yuma Scorpions, as well as the Arizona Winter League and Arizona Summer League.
But baseball in Yuma was a hard sell, even with the Padres coming to town for regular spring-training exhibitions after the move to Peoria. With a demand for soccer in Yuma, conversion of the ballpark and the training field to soccer pitches was only natural. And pro soccer in the form of a Premier Development League (PDL) team is in the works. From the Yuma Sun:
According to Godfrey, OneGoal hopes to eventually transition all four baseball diamonds into regulation soccer fields, beginning with the stadium area to the southwest, where a soccer field will run north and south near the third baseline and will cover a significant amount of the existing field….
“This has been a long journey for us, but we have submitted a business plan and have been accepted to pursue a franchise,” Godfrey said. “Our goal is to have a men’s PDL team in summer 2016. The PDL is a semi-pro soccer organization with over 60 teams across the country, and even internationally. However, we did not want to bring a PDL team to the region without having a proper stadium. This is when we started collaborating with the city of Yuma about the potential of transitioning Desert Sun Stadium into a soccer field.”
OneGoal “is very excited about landing the team at Desert Sun Stadium because of the location,” Godfrey continued. “We want this to be the home team of the desert Southwest. Our team will belong to Yuma, Somerton, San Luis, Wellton, San Luis Rio Colorado, El Centro, Mexicali, and Calexico. Our goal is to highlight the amazing talents and level of skill in this region. We are certain we can field a highly competitive team with the local talent in the community.”
PDL is turning into an interesting proposition for cities that can’t afford NASL or USL soccer, but has a facility suitable for pros.