August 2017 - The Sports Connection: Albuquerque Sol
The sport of soccer became an Albuquerque pastime when the Albuquerque Sol came to town. Ron Patel, founder of Albuquerque Sol, sat down with New Mexico Entertainment and talked to us about his passion to make the Sol the talk of the town in sports.
What was it about Albuquerque and soccer that resonated with you?
Living here for many years, I realized that we are a soccer town. Outside of the University [of New Mexico], which has a first class soccer program, there are no other pro or semi-pro teams. I saw the Sol as a way to unite the community through sports. Basically, I saw a gap in the marketplace and aimed to fill the gap.
Where did your love for the game come from?
I was born in Liverpool, England, and, according to my dad, [I’ve] been kicking the ball since I could walk. In England, soccer’s birthplace, it is by far the most popular sport. I grew up as a Liverpool F.C. [Football Club] fan, but we also had a local team called Chester City. Right now, there are many New Mexicans who have favorite teams in MLS [Major League Soccer] (USA), Liga MX (Mexico), and the Premier League (England), but they’ve never had a local team to connect to. We exist to unite and elevate New Mexico through the world’s most beautiful game.
Has it been a challenge in Albuquerque finding an audience who embraces the love of the sport?
It has not been hard to find soccer fans in New Mexico. What was difficult was learning the nuances of running a minor league sports team in this market. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 11 years and have experience in running businesses, especially in this market. However, it is not easy to learn how to run a sports franchise. If it wasn’t for the exceptional people that make up our organization, we wouldn’t be here today. From the intern staff to gameday staff and coaches, it’s a huge consolidated staff to run a sports business. Then, you have to find the right product on the field, the players!
What is it about this game that makes it exciting to watch?
The great thing about soccer is that there is always something going on. You don’t have to wait for the next commercial break—there is continuous action. What makes the game beautiful is that whilst the goal is the high point of the action, it’s the lead up to the goal which is really quite beautiful. To see a team move the ball as a unit, not as individuals, and then to cap that with a strike to the back of the net—it’s a beautiful site.
Who is your most challenging opponent?
Definitely FC [Football Club]Tucson. They have been our rival since we started. We play them multiple times each year, and it’s always a battle. They have a great organization from top to bottom, and I love competing against them. They have had the better of us for most of the rivalry, something we look to change in the coming years.
The season is winding down soon. What would you like our readers to know about next season?
We are just getting started! We’ve had a plan from day one to grow the business into a full professional soccer franchise. We are doing everything we can to try to grow into a pro franchise and build a downtown soccer stadium that will be a crown jewel of our city. We love this place and we are here to stay!