Over Memorial Day weekend, the Maryland SoccerPlex was packed with soccer players, parents and coaches from some of 342 teams for the Potomac Soccer Association’s Memorial Tournament. They dug their cleats into the grass running down the field, high-fived after netting goals, and they also went out to lunch, refueled their cars and stayed at nearby hotels. The tournament used 22 fields in the soccerplex and 24 more in other parts of the county.
The soccerplex at 18031 Central Park Circle opened in 2000 as a place for kids to learn sports and be active, and for families to gather. But with the rapid growth in Germantown and tournaments drawing more from out of town, the soccerplex now brings significant revenue to local businesses.
An economic impact study recently commissioned by the Maryland Soccer Foundation, which runs the soccerplex, estimated the facility’s total impact to be nearly $25 million a year, including money spent by local teams, soccerplex operating costs and visitor expenditures. Money spent by visitors from out of town was determined to be $13.9 million a year, generating $1.8 million in tax revenue.
With the Potomac Memorial Tournament in its 35th year, Tournament Director Arnold Tarzy said that soccer is bringing as much money to Montgomery County as it has in the past, though the soccerplex may have drawn more of it upcounty.
Of the 342 teams at the Memorial Day tournament held May 23 and 26, he said 225 stayed in hotels.
Daniel Baez, who works for Marriott Hotels booking rooms for sports teams locally, estimated that customers there to play at the soccerplex make up 3,500 stays a year.
“We heavily rely on the soccerplex business, so it is a great advantage to us to partner with the soccerplex,” he said. Marriott offers teams discounted rates and blocks of rooms together.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Baez said Marriotts from Silver Spring to Gaithersburg were booked with players visiting for the Potomac tournament.
“Our lobbies are busy, people are using our restaurants,” he said. “It creates a true energy around the stuff we have going on and the businesses.”
Kelly Groff, president of the Conference and Visitors Bureau of Montgomery County, whose website helps visitors find hotels and plan their trip, said the bureau has seen about a 10 percent increase in the past year in hotel bookings related to tournaments hosted at the soccerplex.
At the Germantown Corner Bakery Cafe, Manager John Bloomenstock said tournaments bring about a 25 percent increase in business on those days.
According the economic impact study, visitors spend about $4.2 million on food, $1.5 million on gas and transportation, $5.4 million on lodging and $2.2 in retail purchases annually.
“Youth sports is an economic engine and we hope that it opens the eyes of the county and state to the benefits of facilities like this,” Executive Director of the Maryland Soccer Foundation Trish Heffelfinger said.