SAGINAW TOWNSHIP (WJRT) - (06/11/19) - A six day soccer tournament with 224 teams from 16 states is expected to make a big impact on the Great Lakes Bay Region economy.
The Saginaw Township Soccer Association (STSA) expects 15,000 people to come to the region. Five thousand of them are players, the rest are coaches, family members, sports officials, and even scouts.
"Those visitors and those players are coming, this is not a 'I hope to draw' -- this is they're already set in granite. They're buying their parking passes, signing up for practice times," said STSA Administrative Director Jack Burd. "Brings a lot of money to the local economy too. That's not the point of this, but just by definition that's what happens."
Hotel rooms have been blocked off for two years. Some are as far away as Mt. Pleasant, West Branch and northern Oakland County.
Other business are preparing too.
"When you're traveling as a family, yes you're there to support your child that's playing, but you're going to have some down time," said Danae Hunt, party starter extrodinaire at Stardust on Bay Road.
Hunt is one of the Stardust employees who will be volunteering at the tournament. Others will feed and entertain out-of-towners, hoping to make a good first impression.
"We've also come up with some special promotions for our guests that are in town, where they can get like a free pizza if they join our text program. We are staffing up to make sure we're ready for the influx of people," Hunt said.
The Great Lakes Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the tournament will bring in $12 to 15 million to the region.
It's an added bonus to a tournament that is already making a big impact. "Everybody on our group that's been working so hard at this, they know it's for the kids. You know that's why we do all this work. Keep the cost of soccer affordable in Saginaw," Burd said.
Burd said they already have around 300 volunteers signed up to help June 21-26, they could use 100 more.
There's more information about volunteering on the STSA website. You'll also find important parking information there.
McCarty Road traffic will be restricted during the tournament. In addition, there is designated tournament parking listed on the website.