The likelihood of Nevada’s Men’s soccer club turning into a D1 team is looking more promising every day. The Empire Ranch golf course is being sold for approximately $3.5 million to Art Castañares, founder of Manzana Energy Inc., and a trauma surgeon by the name of Dr. Fred Simon who are looking to convert the land into a soccer complex. The complex is supposedly being created to include all levels of play, ranging from professional soccer to youth games.
The University of Nevada, Reno, currently has a Women’s Soccer program, but lacks a men’s program to bolster down the sport as a whole. It’s no shock to anyone who has been peering at the University of Nevada for the past few years that Nevada Athletics is going for gold in all of its sports. So why not finally turn the men’s club soccer program into an actual competition team in the NCAA?
With this new soccer complex being built, talent from around the globe will begin stopping in Reno, Nevada to compete in youth, club and professional play. Since all of these highly skilled players from everywhere imaginable are coming to Reno to play, they should have the option of playing at a D1 level at the University of Nevada.
The big question is how does this help the university? Adding a men’s soccer program helps the university in a few ways, the first of which is helping push and promote diversity on campus. Students at the University of Nevada understand they attend a predominantly white institution, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, as of late students of color on campus have begun to feel out of place in light of recent negative, racially charged events. By instituting a new men’s soccer program and recruiting at the new soccer complex, the university would get a wider array of students to enroll, due to soccer being the worlds’s game. As more students on campus look like one another, the students that originally felt unsafe will hopefully find solace in seeing other students of similar ethnic backgrounds.
On top of increasing and assisting campus diversity initiatives, Nevada’s soccer program could create an entirely new alumni network. Just a year ago Ramon Sessions donated $1 million to help upgrade the old Lombardi Recreation Center and turn it into a state-of-the-art basketball performance center. Soccer is an extremely lucrative sport. According to an article on Careertrend.com, as of 2013, the average soccer player’s salary in the Major League Soccer division was $148,693. Obviously there are outliers where certain players make millions per year and some only make tens of thousands per year, but the monetary assistance would be there if Nevada had a professional men’s soccer alumni network.
In addition to monetary assistance from alumni athletes, the university also gets free publicity from these individuals. Athletes are usually very proud of their alma mater and will continue to talk them up until they wither away. So now not only would we have Nevada alumni in basketball, football and baseball but we would pick up a fourth major sport with an alumni soccer network. This new alumni network would also put Nevada on the map on an international stage, because soccer leagues around the world would begin scouting Nevada players.
The new soccer complex that will be built where the Empire Ranch golf course stands is just the start of increasing soccer’s influence in the greater Reno, Sparks area. The complex will spur a large influx of young soccer players that could be looking for a home to play D1 soccer and the University of Nevada could very well be that home.