SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The United States Men’s National Team is taking part in the Copa America Tournament at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, which is expected to bring an influx of fans and teams through the area
They may not be household names in the Bay Area like Curry or Marleau, but the soccer stars converging on the Bay Area this week for La Copa America are some of the biggest names around the sporting world.
“One of my idols is right here, who is currently the best player in the world Lionel Messi,” Brian Palencia of San Jose said.
Messi, who like Steph Curry, is described as a magical player. He and the rest of Team Argentina are staying at the Hayes Mansion Resort in San Jose. The international media is following the team.
“Soccer is the number one sport in our country. Here it is number three or four,” Rama Pantorotto of Telefe Argentina said.
Fans are camped out hoping for a glimpse or an autograph.
“This is really great. This is a once in a lifetime moment,” Kevin Cisneros of San Jose said.
Levi’s Stadium is one of 10 stadiums playing host to La Copa, which is the most important soccer tournament for north and Central America.
It could pack in 70,000 fans per game, with an estimated $139 million economic impact on the region.
To many of the bay area’s large Latino population, La Copa is bigger than the NBA Championship and the Stanley Cup Final combined.
“I’m not much of a basketball fan but soccer, this is the biggest thing. I’ve been here every day since it got here,” Camila Santana of San Jose said.
Downtown San Jose sports bars have been seeing a surge of business from the Sharks and Warriors championship runs, but the owner says passions will spike when teams representing nations like the U.S., Mexico, Colombia and Argentina play.
“It’s just full of emotions, the last couple of matches we’ve seen. It’s just amazing how the fans are impacted by a match,” Sonny Walters from Brittania Arms sports bar said.