OCEANSIDE — The San Diego Sockers are finally getting their forever home.
Coming off their Major Arena Soccer League record fifth league championship in April, the club broke ground this week on what will eventually become its new state-of-the-art 6,000-seat arena that will also play host to myriad other concerts and events in the city of Oceanside.
“The Sockers have always been winners,” said Craig Elsten, the chief marketing officer of the club. “The Sockers have also always been renters. And as a representative of the club, I can tell you that we’ve always struggled.”
When the Sockers played their first season in 2009, the club played out of the 3,500-seat Del Mar Arena at the Del Mar Fairgrounds before moving to the Pechanga Arena San Diego in 2012.
The placeholder name of the arena is currently Arena Califino, named after the team’s owners’ tequila business venture and its head coach Phil Salvagio, but naming rights are expected to be sold at a later date.
The arena will be located in Oceanside’s El Corazon Park near the SoCal Sports Complex, which is already home to 20 soccer fields and plays host to numerous youth soccer events.
The goal is to have the Sockers’ arena fully open and operational for the 2023 season opener.
The arena is being built completely with private funds and no taxpayer dollars, according to the Sockers.
“The patch of ground behind us just looks like dirt and weeds right now but it’s about to undergo a conversion and we truly believe that will help lead to a conversion for this region as well,” Elsten said.
Kraig Chiles, a San Diego native who has been with the Sockers since their first season in the MASL in 2009, is eager to use the excitement of a new stadium to build an even brighter future for the club.
“We’re building on the momentum of the championship and it looks like we’re creating what’s going to be our forever home for the long-term future which is rad,” Chiles said.
The team has struggled in the past securing optimal dates for its games due to scheduling conflicts with several other tenants also sharing Pechanga Arena. The club hopes that having its own space will allow more opportunities for fans to come and cheer them on in the future.
“This gives a lot more flexibility in terms of practicing in the arena and opportunities to get the best dates available which will significantly help attendance and help the organization financially and in turn help keep the organization around for many, many years from here,” Chiles said.
Also in attendance at the ceremonial groundbreaking were members of the Oceanside City Council, including Mayor Esther Sanchez, who welcomed the Sockers to the city and expressed what she thinks will be great excitement from locals.
“I just heard the dream of the Sockers was to find a home; well you have found one here in Oceanside,” Sanchez said. “You will find that our community is a big, big supporter of soccer. You will find that a lot of kids are going to want to shake your hand.”