More than 2,000 San Antonio fans turned out Tuesday evening at the new STAR (South Texas Area Regional Soccer) Complex for a spirited 7 vs. 7 exhibition pitting the nationally ranked Trinity University Tigers against a team of retired superstars from Mexico with Jorge Campos as captain.

The exhibition under ideal weather conditions comes on the heels of the announcement earlier this month that a new NASL member team from San Antonio will begin league competition in 2012.  The expansion effort in San Antonio is being led by philanthropist Gordon Hartman, who recently developed STAR Soccer and neighboring Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first ultra-accessible family fun park designed specifically for those with special needs.

In pre-game remarks, Hartman underscored the connection between STAR Soccer and Morgan’s Wonderland.  “We call it soccer for a cause,” he said.  “Proceeds from soccer played at STAR Soccer help defray operations and maintenance expenses at Morgan’s Wonderland, making it possible for us to admit special-needs individuals free of charge.”

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro also spoke and called attention to the growing popularity of the sport in San Antonio, the nation’s seventh-largest city.  He said pro soccer will add a new dimension to the vibrant community and complements his SA 2020 planning process for a bright future.  County Commissioner Kevin Wolff echoed the mayor’s comments about soccer’s contribution to a dynamic metropolitan area, and  NASL CEO Aaron Davidson praised San Antonio for its strong drive to put a highly competitive team on the field. “If this kick off event is a sign of things to come, San Antonio pro soccer is going to be very successful especially with a dedicated ownership group in place with a a very supportive soccer fan and media community,” “In particular hats off to the Crocketteers Supporters Group for their advocacy of pro soccer in this area.”

In addition to Campos, stars of the ’94-’98 Mexican National Team included Luis Hernandez, Luis Alberto Alves “Zague,” Alberto Garcia-Aspe and Claudio Saurez.  Proceeds from the exhibition will benefit victims of recent hurricanes that have devastated Northern Mexico.

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Michael Macias