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Soccer action at last year's President's Cup tournament at the Jack Allen Recreation Complex. Some 3,000 participants, not including parents and officials, are expected to take part in this weekend's Alabama Youth Soccer Association Division I and II tournaments in Decatur.
Daily file photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Soccer action at last year's President's Cup tournament at the Jack Allen Recreation Complex. Some 3,000 participants, not including parents and officials, are expected to take part in this weekend's Alabama Youth Soccer Association Division I and II tournaments in Decatur.

A full house in Decatur
Weekend soccer, fishing tournaments seen boosting city's population by at least 5,000

By Catherine Godbey
cgodbey@decaturdaily.com · 340-2441

Like Ben and Jerry, Batman and Robin, and Simon and Garfunkel, Decatur's Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Parks and Recreation Department are a dynamic pairing.

Bob Morin shows his catch during the weigh-in at Ingalls Harbor during last month's Bassmaster Classic fishing tournament. This weekend's FLW Chevy Wildcard Series tournament is expected to feature 325 boats.
Daily file photo by Brennan Smith
Bob Morin shows his catch during the weigh-in at Ingalls Harbor during last month's Bassmaster Classic fishing tournament. This weekend's FLW Chevy Wildcard Series tournament is expected to feature 325 boats.
The visitors bureau attracts sports tournaments to the city and the Parks and Recreation Department handles operations.

With more than 1,250 room nights booked for this weekend, and an average of four people per room, the city's population will increase by a minimum of 5,000.

City leaders expect the revenue produced by the Alabama Youth Soccer Association Division I and II tournaments and the FLW Chevy Wildcard Series, a fishing tournament, to establish a Decatur record.

"This November is expected to be the biggest revenue-producing November in the city's history," said Jeff Dunlap, director of the Parks and Recreation Department.

The two main draws are the Jack Allen Recreation Complex and Ingalls Harbor.

"When we built these facilities, we created first-class facilities that we knew could generate revenue," Dunlap said. "We wanted to get to a point where we could pick and choose which tournaments we wanted here. Now everyone is coming to us to schedule tournaments at Jack Allen and Ingalls."

Gail Busbey, the city's chief financial officer, shied away from predicting how much revenue the tournaments will produce. She expects the events to bring in numbers equivalent to those produced by the President's Cup, a soccer tournament Decatur hosted in June 2006.

"In June 2006 revenue jumped by 13.8 percent over the previous year," Busbey said. "Every indication showed that the increase is attributable to the soccer tournament."

The tournaments mean increased revenue for the city from filled hotel rooms, restaurants and shopping centers.

"We called all of the hotels on Friday and found open rooms were few and far between," said Tami Reist, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Take into account that some of the soccer teams are staying in Madison and will come to Decatur for the games ... we are looking at one of the biggest weekends we've ever had."

Etta Moore, manager of Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, will provide a personal welcome to the soccer teams filling the hotel to capacity this weekend and the next.

"This is a great situation to be in," Moore said. "We've decorated the doors for each of the individual teams with signs congratulating them and wishing them good luck."

Restaurants, gas stations and shopping centers will also benefit from the population explosion.

"They've got to eat, and they've got to buy gas," Reist said. "Looking at it from a parent's standpoint, this is quality time parents are able to spend with their children, and they want to make the most of it, so they will try to fit in other activities like shopping."

To help guide the tourists around Decatur's restaurant and shopping scene, the bureau produced coupon books available at the hotels.

Local businesses are targeting the travelers through the goody bags created by the Parks and Recreation Department. Kelly Varnell, the department's recreation superintendent, identified O'Charley's, Papa John's, J.W. Steakhouse, Holiday Inn, Guadalajara, and Ryan's as contributing discount coupons.

Varnell expects the soccer tournament to draw 175 teams with 3,000 participants, not including parents and officials.

While thousands of soccer players and fans will converge on the Jack Allen, Point Mallard, Austin High School and Wilson Morgan fields, 325 boats will launch out of Ingalls Harbor.

"Our phones have been ringing off the hook," Reist said. "If anyone cancels a (hotel) room reservation, we have a fisherman on the other line waiting to take the room."

The FLW Chevy Wildcard follows the Bassmaster Open and the Alabama Bass Federation Regional, held the previous two weekends at Ingalls. While Reist appreciates the economic impact of the tournaments and the reputation of the boat harbor, environmental concerns exist.

"We've got to give the fish some time to rest," Reist said. "We have to pay close attention to our conservation efforts to make sure we're doing things that don't harm our environment."

Even though the fish may need a rest, they won't get one, and neither will the soccer fields.

Decatur's hosting responsibilities resume Nov. 10-11 with the arrival of AYSA soccer teams competing in the Governor's Cup. As the soccer tournament ends, the American Bass Anglers Tournament arrives, scheduled for Nov. 14-17.

"I already have it on my calendar to check the numbers for November next month," Busbey said. "We are very excited about the possible revenue."

Upcoming Events

Jack Allen Recreational Center

Nov. 10-11: AYSA Governor’s Cup

May 9-11: AYSA Division I and II State Cups

May 16-18: AYSA Division I finals

Ingalls Harbor

March: 26-29: FLW Tournament

April 18: FLW Outdoors Choo Choo division.

May 3: Bassmaster Weekend Series Tournament

June 5-8: Bassmaster Elite Series

Decatur Parks and Recreation

Soccer tournament times

Jack Allen Recreation Complex

Friday, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Saturday, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m

Sunday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Point Mallard Park

Friday, 8 p.m.

Saturday, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Sunday, 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Austin High School

Saturday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Sunday 8 a.m. – noon.

Wilson Morgan Park

Saturday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Sunday 8 a.m. – noon.

Decatur Parks and Recreation

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