The Open Cup
By Seth Burkett
The Decatur Daily
The Open Cup will bring more than 240 youth soccer teams to Decatur this weekend, leading to an estimated direct economic impact of $1.7 million.
Melinda Dunn, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said teams have booked more than 2,200 hotel room nights in Decatur and the surrounding area this week. Teams playing at Jack Allen Soccer Complex will be from across the United States and six other countries — Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Canada, Nigeria, Panama and Mexico.
“It’s a big partnership to pull off something like this,” Dunn said. “We have to work with our sister cities to be able to host all the people that we have coming in.”
Under-9, or U9, through U19 girls and boys teams will compete in the tournament sanctioned by Premier Soccer Services. It begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday and concludes Sunday.
The CVB’s estimate of the tournament’s direct economic impact includes traceable spending such as for gas, meals and hotel stays, and does not account for indirect economic impact, Dunn said.
Receptionists at several Decatur hotels said their facilities were either sold out or heavily booked for the coming weekend.
Tom Kurzenbaum, a staff member at Hampton Inn on Beltline Road Southwest, said the 90-room hotel was “solidly booked,” with tournament-goers accounting for about 70 percent of bookings.
“It’s a busy weekend — very, very booked up — but we’re excited about the business,” Kurzenbaum said.
Sandee Sartain, director of sales for Best Western and Microtel Inn and Suites, said teams will be staying at both hotels.
“We’re at sell-out capacity. There’s also a fishing tournament going on this weekend and there’s also the (Alabama) Chicken and Egg Festival,” Sartain said, referring to the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series at Ingalls Harbor and Moulton’s annual poultry-themed agricultural festival, which will feature Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit performing at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts will also hold its second Petals for the Princess event this weekend.“It’s going to be a good weekend,” Sartain said. “This is the largest soccer tournament that we host.”
The tournament debuted in Decatur in 2012 with about 200 teams and will return next year, Dunn said.
The Jack Allen Soccer Complex has 11 fields, including 2 championship fields, and seating for up to 3,000 spectators.
Dunn said staggered timeslots should prevent traffic around the park on Modaus Road Southwest from becoming too congested, though the ongoing Beltline widening project could cause delays.
Meteorologist Andy Kula with the National Weather Service in Huntsville said that despite a front moving into the area sometime Thursday that could decrease temperatures overnight, the weather this weekend should be pleasant.
“Right now, Friday through Sunday we’ve got mostly clear skies forecast, with temperatures around 70 for the highs,” Kula said. “If we get some rain, it’s not going to be long-lasting with this system.”
Dunn said the tournament marks the start of an event-filled period leading up to the President’s Cup soccer tournament in June.
“We have an amazingly busy time between festivals, tennis tournaments, softball, lacrosse tournaments and fishing — a busy three months ahead,” Dunn said.
Seth Burkett can be reached at 256-340-2446 or firstname.lastname@example.org