Soccer Scores Big for R.I.

Tighten your laces, Rhode Island! The arrival of a major youth soccer tournament will be a “net” win for local businesses this summer and next, as the University hosts the 2013 and 2014 United States Youth Soccer Region I Championships, part of the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship Series.

Martha Sheridan ’83, President and CEO of Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau.

All games are to be played at the University, which invested substantially in upgrading more than 20 playing fields to make them available and in prime condition for this event.

“From the start of what was a very fast-paced bid process, URI was a helpful partner and key component in securing this event,” said Martha Sheridan ’83, president and chief executive officer of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau (PWCVB).

“Everyone from administration to athletics and operations has been, and continues to be, fully on board with this project. I am not overstating it when I say this event could not happen without the University’s help and support, and for that I am both proud and grateful.”

The competition is expected to attract 4,500 male and female athletes, ages 12 to 19, from more than 200 teams in each of the two years. Officials are anticipating an additional 10,000 spectators.

“They use every blade of grass while they are here,” said Joseph T. Pittle, who as URI’s manager of Conferences and Special Program Development helps bring such events to the University. “We know families book hotels throughout Rhode Island, southeastern Connecticut, and even nearby Massachusetts. Clearly, the University is an economic boost for many in the hospitality industry.”

Direct Spending* on U.S. Youth Soccer Region I Tournaments at URI June 27–July 2, 2013 & June 26–July 1, 2014

$1,788,000 Hotel Rooms $149 per night based on 12,000 total room-nights spread over six days

$232,440 Hotel Taxes at 13 percent

$2,250,000 Meals if each person spends $30 per day for five out of six days

$180,000 Meal Taxes at 8 percent

$225,000 Gasoline Sales if 4,500 cars fill their tanks once at $50 per fill

$90,000 Beach Passes and parking if each family visits the beach one time on a weekday

$375,000 Retail Sales if each person spends $25

$5,140,440 Total Revenue conservative estimate for each year of the contract

*Estimated based on 4,500 players (15,000 visitors total including family members, officials, and coaches)

As of this magazine’s mid-June press date, Pittle’s office was finalizing every last detail in preparation for the 2013 tournament, from ensuring the beds were made in the residence halls where the referees and officials sleep, to providing their meals in Hope Commons. Barring a hurricane or other unforeseen occurrence, by the time you read this article, Meade Stadium will have held its largest gathering ever for the tournament’s June 27 opening ceremonies, and the state and University of Rhode Island will be just waving goodbye to an estimated 15,000 people connected with the tournament—that is, if they don’t decide to stick around for 4th of July weekend.

Five million dollars is a conservative estimate of the total, in each of the two years, that these athletes, family members, and officials will spend on their hotel rooms, meals, gasoline, beach passes, and other sightseeing. Hosts for this annual event are chosen for two years in a row, doubling the economic benefits. URI last hosted the event in 2003–2004 and 1999–2000.

URI President David M. Dooley praised the collaborative efforts that helped secure this event. “I want to congratulate the governor, the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, Soccer Rhode Island, and members of our Division of Students Affairs, Facilities Services, and Athletics staff, especially Joe Pittle, for all of their hard work in bringing such a prestigious soccer tournament to Rhode Island,” he said. “The University is proud of its exceptional fields and facilities, and we are pleased to partner with the state to help attract events like this that bring thousands of young athletes and families to Rhode Island.”

“This tournament is one of the largest in the country, and the numbers only tell part of the story,” said John Gibbons, executive director of the Rhode Island Sports Commission, a division of the PWCVB. “We’ll have teams here from Maine to West Virginia. It really is some of the best youth soccer, in terms of quality of play, anywhere.”

Many in the Northeast know URI as a soccer hub and home to two successful Division I varsity intercollegiate soccer teams, with the men’s squad posting six Atlantic 10 tourney titles and 11 NCAA tournament berths. Besides the two previous U.S. Youth Soccer Region 1 tournaments, URI has hosted the Olympic Development (Girls Soccer) Program for more than 10 years, as well as 21 Seaside Classics, which are run by the South County Youth Soccer Club and bring tens of thousands of players, families, and coaches to Kingston each year.

“And soccer is just the tip of the iceberg,” Pittle said of summer programs held at URI. “When you add the other sport camps, South County Balloon Festival, the Rhode Island National Guard’s Leapfest, Special Olympics, Steubenville East Catholic Youth Conference, Ocean State Summer Writing Conference, and Friends General Conference … the University easily brings 40,000 people to its Kingston campus during the summer months.”

Compiled and edited by URI staff with information from the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Rhode Island Sports Commission