Nike Soccer Tournament Brings in Big Dollars to Florida Community

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A soccer tournament over Labor Day weekend brought in 19,000 people to Lakewood Ranch, FL with an estimated economic impact of more than $8 million--something the developer plans to do 10 more times this year.

Every restaurant I went to over the weekend in Sarasota had soccer groups

Labor Day Nike Soccer Tournament Brings in Big Dollars

19,000 people attended the largest tournament of the year at Florida sports complex.

The Labor Day soccer tournament at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch brought in approximately 19,000 amateur athletes and fans, generating more than $8 million in economic impact to the region. Five thousand cars delivered players from 305 soccer teams from all over the state of Florida to compete in 296 games over the three-day period. “Every single game started on time,” said Tim Mulqueen, Lakewood Ranch’s director of sports, “and we could not be happier about how the event impacted the surrounding area. Business owners from Dunkin Donuts to Subway sandwich shop to Starbucks and Publix have all commented about how busy they were because of soccer players and their families over the weekend.”

“Every restaurant I went to over the weekend in downtown Sarasota or out on Siesta Key had soccer groups,” said Virginia Haley, President of the Sarasota Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, “it really shows how regional the event was!” Rain forced 51 games to be cancelled on Saturday evening but most were made up on Sunday morning due to the underground drainage system which dries out the fields quickly. Three local Lakewood Ranch Chargers teams brought home championship trophies in the U12, U13 and U15 Boys divisions. Tournament officials say they had to turn away 60 teams due to lack of field space but next year, the tournament is expected to host 500 teams, adding a possible second location for the event.

Starting this Friday, lights poles will delivered for installation on eight fields at the sports campus, extending future play into the nighttime hours. The investment will be approximately $1.1 million. “The lights make us very unique in that we are the ONLY local facility that is privately owned that has playing fields with lights,” Mulqueen said. “We can now be host to at least nine national events – events that will be massive in terms of economic impact and exposure to the area that we could not have secured without lights.” The Premier Sports Campus, which opened in April of this year, has nine additional tournaments scheduled over the next 12 months and features sports ranging from soccer to lacrosse to Ultimate Frisbee.

The Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch is a multi-purpose facility that is home to 22 full-sized, mixed-use fields for soccer, lacrosse and other amateur sports, and features Celebration grass and underground irrigation. The complex is used for amateur and professional top-flight and world-class sporting tournaments, events, camps and clinics and is located in Lakewood Ranch – the 8,500-acre, award-winning master-planned community in Sarasota and Manatee counties on the West Coast of Florida.

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Candice McElyea
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