253 Soccer Teams in Town for Tournament

Evansville's hotels are gearing up for big business this weekend when one of the Midwest's largest soccer tournaments gets underway.

The Evansville League Soccer Club's tournament will draw 253 teams from around the country for a three-day event starting Friday. Some of those players and fans are already rolling into town and opening their wallets.

David Nicholson, from Evansville League Soccer Club, says, "Our reputation with this facility has been really heightened. This truly is a top-notch facility that draws. If you're gonna play in the Midwest's this time of year, we are the tournament."

Thousands of fans means more than $1 million spent over the weekend in Evansville's economy - much of it in hotels and restaurants.

Kevin Stahl, Holiday Inn's general manager, explains, "It is an opportunity to sell ourselves, sell our hospitality, sell Evansville to folks that aren't from around here."

The Holiday Inn on 41 North is virtually sold out.

"Really, it's a big boost, not just for the hotels in the area, but for the restaurants and everything else," says Stahl.

John Shaver, the general manager at Cheeseburger in Paradise, exclaims, "It's awesome; it makes it a little bit more challenging because it is our first week being open. So far, the local business has been great. We're full pretty much from the time we open; we have a little lull after lunch is over; then, we crank it right up for dinner."

Cheeseburger in Paradise is still working out the opening-week bugs, but their timing couldn't have been better because they depend on full hotels rooms to fill up their tables.

Tournament organizers say they had to turn away about 50 more teams that wanted to participate because there simply aren't enough fields, referees and hotel rooms. They are looking into the possibility of splitting the tournament into two weekends in the future which would mean even more money for the local tourism economy.