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Teams attending Rock Hill national soccer tournament will stay in Charlotte

The 1,500 or so players and coaches coming to Rock Hill in July for the national championships of the U.S. Youth Soccer Association will stay in Charlotte.

The association decided to house the players in three Charlotte hotels because Rock Hill lacks enough full-service hotels, said Rob Martella, the association’s director of operations.

The association will also hold its opening banquet at the Charlotte Convention Center because Rock Hill has no facilities capable of accommodating 1,600 people at one time. The opening banquet is a high-tech, coat-and-tie affair where teams are welcomed to the national tournament and videos of the regional tournaments are shown.

Association staff, referees, and sponsors will stay in Rock Hill, according to the national association and local tourism officials. Players’ parents are also expected to stay in Rock Hill and York County.

“We will fill up rooms and feel the economic impact of this event,” said Mark Sexton, chairman of the Local Organizing Committee for the U.S. Youth Soccer Championship and the city’s Tourism and Administrative Division supervisor.

The estimated economic impact of the five-day tournament is between $3 million and $4 million, according to the association. How much of the money will go to Charlotte is unclear, but the decision was anticipated by local officials.

“We knew we had to partner with Charlotte,” said Auvis Cole, the sports marketing manager for the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Some of the money is going to Charlotte.”

The city had hoped to host at least one group of teams at Rock Hill hotels.

Martella said the soccer association found the city’s Manchester Meadows complex an “ideal fit” for the tournament, which draws 60 boys and girls teams from across the country. Competitions will be held in six age groups, from ages 14 to 19. All of the championship games will be played on Manchesters Meadows’ eight fields.

But Rock Hill was “a little lacking in full-service hotels,” Martella said.

The association houses all teams from a region in one hotel, and each region requires 144 rooms. One team can bring up to 22 players and four coaches.

The Blake Hotel in Charlotte is providing 288 rooms to host two regions, while the Marriott Renaissance near the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and the Marriott Executive Park are each hosting one region, Martella said.

Martella said parents of the players do not stay at the team hotels and typically try to stay as close to the soccer venue as possible.

The travel agency that books travel for parents will be using Rock Hill hotels, he said.

Winthrop University was considered as a banquet site but it was too costly to make the space work, Martella said.

“The convention center made more sense logistically and financially,” he said.

The York County Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to market Rock Hill hotels in person at each of the association’s four regionals. After those regionals in late June and July, local hotels should see a spike in reservations, Cole said.

“This is our Super Bowl and we budgeted for it,” Cole said.