October 25, 2013 10:04:48 AM
Hundreds of soccer players will descend on the Columbus Soccer Complex this weekend for the 2013 Coaches Cup Tournament.
Thirty-three teams from around the state are registered to play in the two-day tournament, which goes on Saturday and Sunday.
When Columbus bid for the Coaches Cup, organizers anticipated approximately 70 teams to compete in the event. Columbus Lowndes Parks and Recreation Director Roger Short said he thinks the economy is to blame for the shortfall.
"There's not another explanation for it, really," Short said.
He added that unlike the President's Cup, which will be held at the complex in January, the Coaches Cup is not required, saying, "This tournament is a choice. Teams don't have to come to this tournament. When you get to the President's Cup you have to play in it. That's one difference also."
The Columbus Convention and Visitor's Bureau estimates the tournament will have an economic impact of $360,000, according to a press release.
"We are thrilled that the Mississippi Soccer Association selected Columbus to host these prestigious tournaments," CVB Director Nancy Carpenter said in the release.
Referencing the upcoming President's Cup tournament, Carpenter said, "In addition to providing a positive economic impact for local businesses, restaurants and hotels, both tournaments present a tremendous opportunity for us to share the beauty and warmth of Columbus with visitors from across the state."
While parking was an issue when the complex opened last year, Short said three new lots have been added in preparation for the weekend event. The new gravel parking lots are located at the corner of Third Street and Seventh Avenue, Third Street and Fifth Avenue and off of Coretta Street, adjacent to the Calloway Orthodontics field. Short said a new gravel road has also been added off of the bypass that goes into the north side of the complex.
The shortage of bathrooms and concession stands has been addressed as well, Short said.
"We fought that last year and now the restroom facilities are in really good shape," he said. "The complex is so spread out, we say we have a north side and a south side with Moore's Creek as the divider. We have concessions on the north side and the south side."
According to Short, the Mississippi Soccer Association toured the complex last week and were pleased with the recent upgrades.
This is the first year Columbus has hosted the Coaches Cup tournament and coach Adam Parker said he feels it is solely due to the new soccer complex.
"We wouldn't be able to host any of these tournaments without this new complex," he said. "The fields are top notch quality fields and we wouldn't be able to have this tournament much less the President's Cup, which is the biggest tournament in the state."
Parker will be an assistant coach for the Columbus U8 boys Bancorp South team and said it is an honor to be able to play at home.
"This is great privilege to be able to play at home," local coach Parker said. "We work hard and you get a chance to get a state cup at home is a great honor."
Short said the city would not have been able to host the tournament without the help of the Columbus Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
"The CVB is going beyond the call of duty helping with this tournament," he said. "They helped us secure the tournament and they really stepped up for us. We really appreciate them."
Teams begin competing at 9 a.m. Saturday. The tournament concludes Sunday.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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