The Shawnee Park Multi-Sport Complex in Dunbar and the Barboursville Soccer Complex are teaming up to host three U.S. Youth Soccer tournaments in 2019 and 2020, Gov. Jim Justice and other officials announced Friday at the state Capitol.
Officials estimated the three tournaments — the 2019 and 2020 U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern Presidents Cup and the 2019 U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships — will bring a total economic impact of $32 million for the Kanawha Valley, concentrated in the hospitality industry. Each tournament takes place over a span of five days.
The U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships alone will have an economic impact of $16 million, officials estimate, with about 225 girls and boys soccer teams representing 15 states being drawn to West Virginia.
Each iteration of the Presidents Cup will feature 125 teams with an estimated economic impact of $8 million.
“You’ll have hundreds of teams, thousands of players, tens of thousands of parents, fans, spectators, grandparents and whoever else wants to come,” said Greg Smith, general manager of U.S. Youth Soccer’s East Region.
Justice said the number of people who will be drawn to the region for the tournaments will be a “phenomenal” boost for the state.
“People will begin to see what we’re really all about,” he said. “This will put the camera on West Virginia, and the world will see a lot about how good we are. And that’s what we want to do.”
In a news release, Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango said he was excited that Shawnee Park can partner with US Youth Soccer and Barboursville for events that will be “significant for hotels, restaurants, and all local businesses.”
As for why U.S. Youth Soccer selected the two West Virginia complexes to host the tournaments, Smith said it was an easy decision.
“Are you kidding me?” Smith said. “It’s beautiful West Virginia. When you have a location that wants you to be there, you have a pretty good sense the event is going to be a huge success.”
Barboursville is no stranger to hosting youth soccer events. It hosted the 2017 U.S. Youth Soccer Region I Presidents Cup and will host a U.S. Regional Presidents Cup in June.
Len Rogers, president of the West Virginia Soccer Association, said the tournaments will be split up between Barboursville’s 16 fields and Shawnee’s six fields.
Convenience is a primary benefit to the partnership between the two complexes, Rogers said.
The tournaments always lead to hotels being booked well outside of the host city’s area, so having it at two locations will likely make it easier on organizers and families when it comes to accommodations, Rogers said. The split between the locations is also a benefit if one city is seeing rain during the tournament, he added.
Dates have not yet been announced. In a news release, U.S. Youth Soccer said semifinal and final matches in the tournaments “are anticipated to take place at Shawnee Park.”