Source: ANOC World Beach Games, 
San Diego 2019

Source: ANOC World Beach Games, San Diego 2019

— Earlier this year, the Associated Press crowned San Diego the worst sports city in the country. But local groups like the San Diego Tourism Authority and the San Diego Sports Commission say the city shouldn’t be counted out just yet.

The city will host the inaugural Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) World Beach Games October 2019, which was recently announced by San Diego Exploratory Foundation chairman Vincent Mudd and other officials.

No State-of-the-Art Stadium

A town that once boasted an NFL team — the Chargers left for Los Angeles last year after failing to get public support for a new stadium — and is still home to MLB’s San Diego Padres is increasingly banking on a variety of large sporting events and minor-league teams to continue to drive its booming hospitality and tourism sectors. But minus a state-of-the-art stadium, it will not be home to the highest profile professional and major college spectator sports events such as the Super Bowl, World Cup or collegiate national championship games in basketball and football.

The Beach Games are expected to attract about 1,300 athletes representing more than 200 countries and playing in 15 sports and 17 disciplines. The budget for the games is $39 million.

“This will probably be the largest delegation of international visitors that we ever had, and that includes the World fair (Panama-California Exposition) 101 years ago,” said Mudd, a longtime civic leader and managing partner and principal at architecture firm Carrier Johnson + Culture.

“The economic impact is clearly exponential. We are hosting the general assembly which will include all 206 countries, Olympic representatives and the International Sports Federations. The entire Hyatt has been booked for the general assembly, so, that will be thousands and thousands of rooms reserved for those nights. That obviously doesn’t even count the economic impact of the athletes and the spectators, from the US and Mexico as well as all of the other participating countries.”

Said Mike McDowell of the San Diego Sports Commission: “These games are a big deal to San Diego, with long-term ramifications for hosting other national and international games. San Diego will be positioned to attract several similar events well into the future, all bringing significant economic impact.

“This provides major economic impact in ways the Chargers never did (except for an occasional Super Bowl).”

Big Events

The city has been host to many international sports events over the years — though not with regular frequency except for international soccer matches. The Breeders’ Cup World Championships were held at Del Mar in 2017. The America’s Cup sailing event was held here in 1988, 1992 and 1995. The U.S. Open golf tournament was at Torrey Pines in 2008 and is returning in 2021. There have been the occasional special events, such as the World Baseball Classic, world rugby games, surfing championships and Red Bull air races.