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Tourney crowds score big for business

Jul. 03, 2010 @ 11:30 PM

BARBOURSVILLE -- Only a few days into the 2010 US Youth Soccer Region I Championships and businesses are reporting higher numbers thanks to the 16,000 players, parents, coaches and referees visiting the Tri-State.

Last year was the first year the tournament was held in the Huntington area. It had an estimated economic impact of about $12 million.

Many of the restaurants experiencing a spike in business are located around the fields at the Barboursville Soccer Complex in Barboursville City Park and the Scott Orthopedic Soccer Complex in the YMCA Kennedy Center fields on W.Va. 2.

About 4,500 soccer players on 280 teams from 13 states are participating in the tournament and looking for places to eat when not down at the fields.

Ryan Rayburn, manager of Hooters on US 60, said he ordered several thousand dollars worth of additional food to prepare for the soccer players and supporters. Rayburn said they even opened up an hour early to take advantage of the crowds who want to eat while watching World Cup matches.

"At 10 a.m. we had the restaurant three-quarters filled," Rayburn said. "That's a very good problem to have."

On Thursday, Rayburn said four full teams of about 140 people stopped by the restaurant. Rayburn said he's been getting more people to work and preparing for an "overwhelming" week of business.

"So far, we're seeing a lot more business this year than we did during last year's tournament," Rayburn said.

Another restaurant experiencing a higher volume of customers is Bellacino's Pizza & Grinders in Barboursville. Chad Farley, the manager of the pizzeria, said they typically make $1,000 during week days. But since the teams came to town, Farley said their business has doubled.

"We've done tons of extra pizza business," Farley said. "We knew the tournament was coming so we've been preparing for it."

Typically, Farley said, Bellacino's doesn't make delivers but they will be doing it during the tournament to accommodate the visitors. Farley said he expects to be making a lot of deliveries to local hotels and motels.

More than 3,400 hotel and motel rooms from Charleston to Grayson, Ky., have been reserved for the visiting soccer supporters. Ann Markivich, assistant manager for the Holiday Inn in downtown Huntington, said all 135 rooms have been booked for the six-day tournament.

"The tournament has not only been great for the hotels but also for the surrounding businesses and restaurants," Markivich said. "This is great for the local economy."

Markivich said the teams staying in the hotel have been asking about local restaurants and attractions. Camden Park in Huntington and locations associated with the "We Are Marshall" film are popular among visitors, Markivich said.