Balls to the Wall

Santa Fe soccer fans should have a new local team to root for by year’s end

David Fresquez has his work cut out this year.

Fresquez owns and operates a senior home care company, serves as president of the Santa Fe Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and most recently announced he’s starting a professional arena soccer team in town. The team—which still doesn’t have a name, logo, or player roster—is set to kick off its inaugural season with a game in December.

Fresquez tells SFR the combination of his passion for soccer and his “love for Santa Fe” inspired him to start a local Major Arena Soccer League 2 (MASL 2) team.

“I had an older brother who played soccer, so I always did what my older brother did,” Fresquez says. “It was my older brother and my mom who introduced me to soccer. I totally fell in love with it.”

The 36-year-old was a star soccer player at Santa Fe High School before going on to play for Colorado State University - Pueblo. He’s old enough to remember the semi-professional New Mexico Chiles team that folded in the mid-1990s. Citing the Chiles, Albuquerque Sol, a team that quietly fizzled out a few years ago, and New Mexico United, a USL Championship league team that plays in Albuquerque, Fresquez says Santa Feans often have to leave town to see local teams play.

“The Santa Fe community has always had to go elsewhere for that experience,” Fresquez says. “Now they can do it in their own backyard in Santa Fe.”

The notable exception is the Fuego, which plays its semi-pro Pecos League baseball games at Fort Marcy. Fresquez is still negotiating an agreement with the city to use the Genoveva Chavez Community Center ice rink. Fresquez says the team will be a “game changer in the community.”

“Santa Fe’s always punched over their weight when it comes to entertainment, when it comes to culture and the art scene,” he says. “There’s no reason why we can’t expect this team to be a winning product on and off the field.”

City Manager John Blair referred questions about the team to City Clerk Kristine Bustos-Mihelcic. Neither she nor the Chavez center manager were available for an interview about how much the city might shell out for needed capital, facility staff or other expenses, or how much the team would pay to use the rink.

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber praised Fresquez’s move in a statement released last month.

“Santa Fe loves soccer! And now we’ll have a Santa Fe team playing in the Major Arena Soccer League, representing our kids, our families, and our community! The City is delighted to provide an assist and we’re eager to see David Fresquez and the team score the first goal,” Webber said in the statement.

The arena soccer season starts in December and Fresquez expects to hold six home games played on turf rolled out over the ice rink. He hopes to rally local soccer fans and fill the bleachers.

“We expect these games to be action-packed,” Fresquez says. “We expect the Genoveva Chavez Community Center to be sold out. I think it’s going to be a hot ticket.”

There’s still plenty for Fresquez to do before the season opens at the end of the year, but his team will launch with a built-in rival.

Andres Trujillo owns the New Mexico Runners, a MASL 2 team based in Rio Rancho, and has been giving Fresquez pointers on starting a team from scratch. The Runners kick off their fourth season’s first home game on Jan. 7 against a team from Texas and have already traveled to Kansas for a mid-December game.

Trujillo, a self-described sports entertainment entrepreneur, tells SFR the key to a successful local sports franchise is properly serving the fans.

“If you’re doing this to try and be a [Dallas Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones and, ‘Oh look at me, I own a sports team,’ it’s not going to be successful, because you’re doing it for yourself and not for the community,” he says.

Luckily, the surrounding community is exactly why Fresquez decided to start the team. In addition to taking on the new team and volunteering with the largely Southside business group, Fresquez also owns Age Friendly, an at-home senior care company.

“This is something that Santa Fe has been wanting and needing for a very long time, in terms of bringing in a pro arena soccer team, providing role models to the community and providing hope for young kids and making that all accessible, all at the same time,” Fresquez says.

Arena soccer mostly keeps in line with its traditional counterpart’s rules, but also borrows from hockey. Players can use the field’s surrounding walls to their advantage, and the only way a ball goes out of bounds is if it jumps the wall. Learn more about arena soccer here.

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