Club soccer in the USA has become more and more of a battle between the haves and the have nots. To play on many of the higher level boys and girls club teams across the country (like ECNL or Academy teams), the entry cost is fairly steep. There are fees for coaches, trainers, travel, hotels, indoor training and tournaments.
There has been extensive debate in this country about the economics of youth soccer and the and how players are getting “priced out” of being able to compete at the highest levels. While everyone wants the best for their son/daughter, not everyone can afford it. Some families wind up spending in excess of $10,000 per year to be on high level club teams in the United States.
One thing that I have not heard or read much about is the economic impact soccer tournaments have for local communities that host these colossal tournaments that so many eager players are attending in search of the almighty college scholarship.
While attending the Jefferson Cup in Virginia on March 16-18, I had the chance to pick up a copy of the Henrico Citizen which has been “Henrico County’s Hometown Newspaper Since 2001”–little did I know. In the March 15 – April 4, 2012 issue, the Big Story was an article called “Moneyball- Tournaments bring huge economic impact, positive exposure to Henrico”. (For the complete article, go http://www.henricocitizen.com/index.php/news/article/moneyball0315.)
The article describes the economic impact that the Jefferson Cup has on Henrico County Virginia.
“By its conclusion, the 916-team tournament will have brought more than 13,500 athletes and an estimated 20,250 spectators to Henrico and Metro Richmond, filling about 21,000 hotel room nights and contributing more than $15 million to the local economy.”
That is some serious impact! And soccer is not the only culprit.
“In Fiscal Year 2011…, nine youth and adult sporting events in Henrico County contributed $100,000 or more apiece to the county’s economy- including six that generated $1 million apiece…”
The total economic impact in the area from youth sports and associated tourism was nearly $30 million according to county officials. Adding in professional sports (NASCAR and Nationwide races at Richmond International Raceway) brings the total economic impact up to $417 million annually according to the article.
Baseball, softball, volleyball and ice hockey are other sports also holding events in the area. The Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that “each out-of-town visitor visitor that comes to the region for a sports tournament spends an average of $208 per day.” They also found that “93 percent of all visitors to the region planned to return – 44 percent within a year, and 61 percent within two years.”
How does all this impact D3 college recruiting? For clubs, as long as they have players willing to pay the fees to be part of the high echelon teams, they are not going to change. For communities that are benefiting economically, they are going to encourage teams to spend money to travel to their tournaments, stay in their hotels, visit their local attractions and eat at their restaurants while they attend those tournaments. Just another motivating factor not to change the system. And of course coaches will go to these events, because that’s where the players are!
The bottom line is this—- There are no forseeable changes to the soccer club system in the USA; we will continue on with rich, expensive clubs and poor clubs and many clubs in the middle. All the while with voices on the sideline questioning what is best for the development of the player. With this kind of economic impact, this is just one more motivator to keep feeding this youth sport dynamic. Henrico County Virginia certainly doesn’t want to give up a $15 million payday from the Jefferson Cup.
Thanks for reading!
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