Tournament added $3.5M to local economy

The national youth soccer tournament held at Manchester Meadows had a direct economic impact of $3.5 million, U.S. Youth Soccer and Rock Hill officials estimate.

The estimate is based on the soccer association’s experience with past tournaments, the number of hotel rooms booked for the July tournament and the number of attendees, said Mark Sexton, supervisor for the Tourism and Administrative Division of the city’s Parks, Tourism and Recreation Department.

The estimate is a regional impact because some teams and parents stayed in Charlotte.

The tournament generated 2,000 room nights for hotels in York County, according to city officials.

Originally all of the 60 teams were slated to stay in Charlotte, but some were moved to Rock Hill when Charlotte hotels could not accommodate them.

The soccer association’s pre-tournament estimate for economic impact was $3 million, based on previous tournaments.

The total economic impact of the tournament is likely larger, officials said.

The estimate focused on factors that could be measured easily such as the number of hotel rooms used by tournament players and their families.

The cost to hold the national tournament was $140,000, Sexton said. A local organizing committee raised funds and expects to have covered the cost. A final accounting of fundraising efforts has not been made yet.

The city’s contribution to the tournament was a $25,000 sponsorship with $15,000 in cash and the $10,000 spent on staffing.

Tom Regan, a professor with the Department of Sports and Entertainment Management at the University of South Carolina, said the total economic impact could be more.

Typically, direct spending has an indirect component that is more difficult to measure, he said.

Regan said direct spending can be multiplied by a factor to capture an overall economic impact that would capture spending on gas, meals and other incidentals. He said the accuracy of that figure depends on what economic model is used and how much “primary data” is acquired from people during the event. A problem with some estimates is that people don’t get a big enough sample size.

The $3.5 million is the largest amount generated by an event at Manchester Meadows, Sexton said. The city has shared in larger events, such as a national softball championship that brought 688 teams to the region and had an estimated economic impact of more than $10 million.

Sexton said the city estimates the total direct impact from tournaments at city facilities this year should be between $12 million and $15 million.

The final figure depends on the number of events and the weather, he said.

City officials and the Rock Hill-York County Convention and Visitors Bureau also are evaluating the recent RH Classic Tournament, run by the Discoveries soccer club and sponsored by Velux of Fort Mill. That tournament brought 212 teams to York County.

According to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Discoveries tournament generated 1,044 hotel room nights.

By Don Worthington, Staff Reporter with The Herald