COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — Just four months after opening, the new downtown soccer complex and park in Columbus has landed it’s first two major tournaments. And they could be just the beginning of the economic development opportunities brought by the park.
The 70-team Coaches Cup tournament will come to Columbus in November and the 150-team Presidents Cup will be played in May 2014. It’s the state’s largest soccer tournament, bringing 3,000 or more players, relatives and spectators to the city.
“We’ll have a lot of guests in here that we hope they’ll be spending their money buying our gas, eating in our restaurants, staying at our hotels. So it’s a very good economic thing for the city and the county. It’s really a boost for us to go ahead and secure two tournaments like this,” said Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Director Roger Short, who noted the tournaments and similar events are “gravy” on top of having top-notch facilities for local youth programs.
The soccer complex has hosted youth leagues and smaller tournaments since opening in September. Work should be completed by early summer on additional concession stands, parking and traffic outlets.
The CLRA bid on three tournaments and won these two, the “plums” of those on the annual soccer sports calendar. The CLRA won bids against other soccer complexes in the state over the week-end at a conference in Vicksburg.
The Coaches Cup Tournament will be held Nov. 2-3, 2013 and the Presidents Cup will be held May 24-25, 2014.
“We are very excited about it,” Short said. “We have a lot of experience with tournaments and we are confident we will do a good job.”
Short said without the support of the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau, hosting the tournaments would not have been possible.
Nancy Carpenter, executive director of the CCVB, knows what it will take to host the tournament.
“A meeting is scheduled for Thursday of this week to address all issues of hosting a large tournament. We will address all issues this week. We are not waiting.We know what has to be done before November to host a soccer tournament. That work is starting this week,” Carpenter said.
Anyone interested in volunteering for either tournament should contact Greg Lewis at the CLRA Office at 662-327-4935 or Nancy Carpenter at the CCVB Office at 662-329-1191.