Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy has made a significant marketing blitz in Santa Ana in the last month. They bought at least two billboards, one on Harbor and 17th streets and another on Bristol and Alton, and they bought adds on Santa Ana Blvd and other OCTA bus routes.
Adding to that is the connection made with the Santa Ana Police Athletic & Activities League, which took a group of kids to see the Galaxy play Sporting Kansas City this last weekend at the Home Depot Center. It’s unclear if the SAPAAL reached out to the Galaxy or vice versa.
This isn’t the first time that the Galaxy and the league have marketed in Santa Ana. In 2011 the Galaxy, representing MLS and their owner AEG, bought advertisements for the MLS Cup Final at Westfield Mainplace Mall.
They get Santa Ana’s soccer market potential and take it seriously, mostly because of talks that Chivas USA has had with Santa Ana in the past. The Galaxy only started marketing on as large of a scale, here, after Chivas flirted with the idea of moving to Santa Ana.
Still, the Galaxy can throw as much money as they want at Santa Ana, but long-gone are the days of Mexican Galaxy players Luis Hernández and Jorge Campos. Santa Ana is more an Hernández and Campos town obviously and let’s not kid ourselves.
Chivas has at least three players that grew up or played in Santa Ana leagues. This year we had a Santa Ana native, Daniel Antúnez, play for the first team. But sadly, he’ll be out for months due to a knee injury suffered two weeks ago.
Jorge Villafaña, a former Sueño MLS Winner, is from Anaheim and played in Santa Ana as a kid.
Armando Flores, a more current Sueño MLS Winner, is from Santa Ana and Valley High School, and he plays for the Chivas Under 18 Academy. He may rise to the professional ranks within two years.
Chivas defender Carlos Borja is from nearby Anaheim, and that is more than the Galaxy can say.
These are the types of real inroads that the Galaxy has to make with a community like Santa Ana, but their marketing blitz is a rush to fill a vacuum, a scramble for dollars. We in Santa Ana can get used to seeing more of our kids, our products, become professionals through Chivas. At least that pattern is established and some are getting breaks. That’s not the case with the Galaxy.
Chivas owner Jorge Vergara needs to understand the importance of the Santa Ana soccer market and take it as seriously as the Galaxy has been doing lately. Although he wants to field a team in Los Angeles proper, those hopes are dependent on whether or not USC decides to demolish the Sports Arena and build a soccer stadium there, or whether or not USC sells all of that land and the Arena to Vergara, which would be a costlier fix for him.
Even if USC sells all of that land to Vergara, I don’t see a deal of that scale closing by the end of 2014. It’s said that Chivas USA’s lease at the Stub Hub Center (former Home Depot Center) ends in 2014.
In the meantime there was a place–the only place–that was openly proactive about bringing Chivas USA, and that place is Santa Ana. There is, undoubtedly, an important soccer market in Santa Ana, all that is needed is a city council brave enough to make Santa Ana a top-flight soccer town by housing a pro team here.