Soccer Stars at the Great Park Sports Park
The soccer tournament is the first NAIA Championship to be held in Irvine. California has hosted the men’s soccer championship four previous times: in Pasadena in 1976 and in Fresno in 1984, 2008 and 2009. The tournament will come to Irvine in 2019.
It’s the 60th anniversary of the NAIA Championship Soccer Tournament. It was held in Palm Beach County, Florida, the past four years.
“This is a true community effort; the support of the city of Irvine, its new Orange County Great Park Sports Complex and our hotel partners made it possible for our Destination Irvine sales team to secure the 2018 and 2019 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championships for Irvine,” said Bryan Starr, president/CEO, Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce, Irvine Economic Development and Destination Irvine. “The new Sports Complex gives Irvine a new level of competitiveness that we can leverage to attract sporting events of this caliber.”
The NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship brings a large economic impact to the host community, according to Destination Irvine, the travel and tourism marketing arm of Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce. The potential economic impact the championships could have in Irvine is estimated at more than $192,000 per year, totaling more than $384,000 for both years.
Each year more than 65,000 NAIA student-athletes play college sports, earn over $600 million in scholarships, and compete for a chance to participate in 26 national championships.
“We are excited to start a new chapter with men’s soccer in Irvine, California,” said Jim Carr, NAIA president and CEO. “Our team is eager to work alongside the Golden State Athletic Conference to make this championship event memorable for our student-athletes.”
The tournament is co-hosted by the Golden State Athletic Conference, which includes schools from California and Arizona, including O.C.’s Vanguard University in Costa Mesa and Hope International University in Fullerton.
“On behalf of the nine universities of the Golden State Athletic Conference, we are thrilled to bring this NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship to Orange County,” said Mike Daniels, commissioner of the Golden State Athletic Conference. “The partnership with Destination Irvine, the city of Irvine and the Orange County Great Park will ensure the 16 teams traveling to Irvine will have a memorable experience as they compete for the national title.”
In addition to the tournament matches, events planned during championship week including Opening Night Banquet, presented by Hoag (Sunday, Nov. 25), Soccer Club Night (Monday, Nov. 26), IUSD Night (Tuesday, Nov. 27), AYSO Night (Wednesday, Nov. 28) and Special Olympics Day (Thursday, Nov. 29).
The NAIA and GSAC will also honor two of its former national champions on Saturday, Dec. 1 as the 1972 Westmont College National Champions and 2007 Azusa Pacific National Champions will be honored prior to the start of the game.
Ticket prices start at $15 for adults for the first three days and $20 for the semifinals and championship days. High school students and younger will be able to get $10 tickets throughout the tournament.